IUP, Punxsutawney Area Hospital Sign Clinical Training Affiliation Agreement For IUP Proposed College Of Osteopathic Medicine Students

On June 24, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Punxsutawney Area Hospital signed a clinical training affiliation agreement for students in IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine.

This is the first clinical training affiliation agreement between IUP and a hospital or medical center.

“IUP has a long and proud history of partnerships and collaborations with the Punxsutawney community, from our Academy of Culinary Arts to our regional campus,” IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll said. “Our commitment to Punxsutawney and to providing educational opportunities to students in the region is strong and solid,” he said.

“Now, we’re looking to Punxsutawney to provide educational opportunities for our students in the proposed college of osteopathic medicine, so this agreement takes our partnership to a new level,” he said. “This is an outstanding opportunity for students in our proposed college of osteopathic medicine to learn from talented, committed medical professionals who care deeply about patient wellness,” he said.

“IUP and Punxsutawney Area Hospital share a commitment to addressing the critical need for rural health care, so this is a perfect match,” President Driscoll said. “This agreement promises unique opportunities for our students to continue their medical training in a setting that values outstanding, compassionate, and community-based care,” he said.

IUP has formally initiated steps towards accreditation of its proposed college of osteopathic medicine from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, a three- to five-year process that includes submission of self-studies and a feasibility study, along with site visits. Securing clinical training sites for students is part of the successful accreditation process.

“As a member of the Punxsutawney Area Hospital Foundation Board of Directors and the IUP Council of Trustees, I see a wonderful connection here,” IUP Council of Trustees Chairman Sam Smith said. “This agreement is great for training of IUP’s future students in a rural hospital, which is our main objective, but this also compliments our hospital’s ongoing partnership with Indiana Regional Medical Center.  IRMC has been a vital ally with IUP as our proposed osteopathic medical school seeks accreditation and its relationship with the Punxsutawney Area Hospital allows these three organizations to mesh together in a positive and special way,” Trustee Smith said.

“I commend both institutions for their outstanding work to further advance healthcare and educational opportunities within our region,” Senator Joe Pittman said. “This collaborative agreement takes a significant step forward for IUP’s new College of Osteopathic Medicine and will ultimately help to make our region a hub of rural healthcare delivery for our state and beyond.”

Dr. Miko Rose was hired as the founding dean of the proposed college of osteopathic medicine in November 2023; the hiring of a founding dean is one of the first steps to establishing the college.

“Punxsutawney Area Hospital is the model of a successful community rural hospital, with a philosophy and commitment to community that we want our students to understand and to embrace,” Dr. Rose said. “We are looking for those hidden healthcare heroes, the talented students who are committed to making a difference in rural health care, and Punxsutawney Area Hospital is exactly the right place for them to become talented physicians—committed and empathetic healthcare professionals who understand the importance of community.

There are only three colleges of osteopathic medicine in Pennsylvania, all at private universities; IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine would be the only college of osteopathic medicine at a public university. National studies show that osteopathic medicine graduates are more likely to pursue primary care in rural and underserved areas—57 percent of all doctors of osteopathic medicine practice as general practitioners, and more than 20 percent of DO graduates practice in rural areas.