ICOM, ISU Partner to Offer DO and MHA Degree Option

Student Doctors at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) now have the opportunity to complete a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree with their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.

In partnership with Idaho State University College of Business, through co-admission and co-enrollment, ICOM medical students can pursue this MHA degree option beginning this fall.

According to Dr. Tracy J. Farnsworth, ICOM President and a professor in the MHA program, an increasing number of medical students are pursuing dual degrees today.

“ICOM aims to prepare future physicians who not only excel in the delivery of high-quality patient care, but do so effectively within the context of today’s increasingly complex healthcare business environment,” Farnsworth said. “Students who combine an MHA with their professional medical degree learn those additional leadership principles and essential business skills needed to lead well-run healthcare organizations. The DO-MHA is a powerful and highly respected dual credential.” 

Kristine McCarty, Director of Graduate Programs at Idaho State, said eight spots in the MHA program have been reserved for ICOM students each academic year. Applicants will still undergo the graduate application process through ISU, but can submit official MCAT scores in lieu of the GRE or GMAT requirements. McCarty noted that they do require that one of the applicants’ two letters of recommendation come from a faculty member or advisor at ICOM.

“Additionally, we are allowing some ICOM coursework in the DO program to waive some prerequisite and elective courses in the MHA program, so long as students complete at least 30 graduate credits at Idaho State,” said McCarty. “Great care was taken when deciding which courses would be waived for students pursuing both programs.”

Once completing the program, students will graduate from Idaho State University with an MHA degree likely at the same time as graduating from ICOM with their DO.

Dr. Thomas J. Mohr, Dean and Chief Academic Officer of ICOM, emphasized the importance of their students not only becoming medical experts, but also understanding the whole healthcare system.

“ICOM is committed to training caring and compassionate physicians with the expertise and knowledge to improve the health of the individuals and communities they serve,” Mohr said. “While there may have been a time that a physician could rely on his or her medical knowledge alone, a good doctor must be able to understand and navigate the complexities of the healthcare system. Health system management is rapidly becoming a core competency for physicians and these concepts are being introduced in the medical school curriculum. The combined DO-MHA program will provide the graduate with an additional layer of training focused on the business and leadership skills that will be essential to providing the highest quality care for patients, expanding practice opportunities for the physician and leading the evolution of the healthcare system for the greater good.”

Sarah Downs, a third-year medical student at ICOM, is one of three student doctors pursuing the dual degree beginning this fall.

“I’ve always been interested in how healthcare organizations operate,” said Downs. “Having an MHA degree from Idaho State will give me the knowledge I need to play a role in creating positive change within healthcare no matter where my career path takes me.”

Student Doctor Downs hasn’t yet decided which medical specialty to pursue, but is interested in rural health and improving small county hospitals in Idaho.

“I believe doctors need to be part of the greater conversation when it comes to improving patient care by helping make decisions on where services and programs are best spent. My goal is to work together with healthcare administration to improve the future of healthcare for Idahoans.”

“This unique co-admission partnership is a response to a strong career outlook in the field, and a growing need for professionals specifically trained in this area,” added Dr. William Perry Baker, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at ICOM. “ICOM has a long history of collaboration as an active educational partner with ISU.”

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