OSU-COM at the Cherokee Nation
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and the Cherokee Nation have
established the nation’s first tribally affiliated college of medicine in Tahlequah,
Oklahoma, which opened in August 2020 with an entering class of 54 first year medical
In October 2018, OSU Medicine and the Cherokee Nation announced the establishment
of the nation’s first college of medicine to be located on the campus of a tribal
health facility in Tahlequah.
“The 54 medical students represent the fulfillment of many dreams over many years;
to create a medical school in partnership with the largest tribal nation in the heart
of Indian Country,” said Kayse Shrum, D.O., OSU-CHS president and OSU College of Osteopathic
Medicine dean. “The students can attend medical school, complete their residency training,
and practice medicine – all right there in Tahlequah under the auspices of both OSU
Medicine and the Cherokee Nation. I can’t think of a better way to attract and train
primary care physicians for rural and underserved Oklahoma.”
“Today we celebrate a momentous milestone and a historic moment for the Cherokee Nation,
for our friends at Oklahoma State University, and for our first class of 54 students
who are officially entering the medical profession,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin
Jr. “As we mark the official opening of the first tribally-affiliated medical school
in the United States, we know that we will one day look back on this day and what
will matter most is whether our efforts have changed lives for the better. I believe
that this partnership will advance quality health care for all by allowing us to teach
a new generation of medical professionals to serve our communities for years to come.
I wish each and every student the best as they begin this journey. They have our full
“The students who make up the Class of 2024 have fulfilled our greatest hopes. They
come with impeccable academic credentials and a desire to make a difference in the
lives of others. Our faculty here in Tahlequah and in Tulsa are committed to their
academic and professional success. Our singular mission is to prepare them for a fulfilling
and successful career in medicine,” said Dr. William J. Pettit, dean of the OSU College
of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation.
The inaugural class is composed of a diverse group, including 20 percent who are American
Construction continues on the new, state-of-the-art facility of the OSU College of
Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation which is located on the campus of the
W.W. Hastings Hospital. Students will attend a mix of online and in-person classes
with appropriate physical distancing. Temporary classrooms have been established at
the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center while construction on the new medical
The 84,000-square-foot medical school building will include an anatomy laboratory,
clinical skills lab, osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, standardized patient labs
and a simulation center that will feature state-of-the-art computer programmable manikins.
There will also be lecture halls, classrooms, faculty offices, study carrels and a
gym/workout area. Construction, which was delayed during the pandemic, is expected
to be finished in December 2020.
The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is an extension of
the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine located in Tulsa. OSU College of Osteopathic
Medicine is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic
To further advance this historic partnership, OSU Center for Health Sciences announced two key leadership positions:
William J. Pettit, D.O, M.A., Dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation - Pettit previously served as Provost and Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for OSU Center for Health Sciences.
Natasha Bray, D.O., M.S., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Accreditation - Bray most recently served as clinical associate professor in rural health at OSU Center for Health Sciences.
OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation
- 84,000 square feet
- Classes began fall 2020
- First medical school class – 50 students
- Targeting a total of 200 medical students when fully operational
- 16 full-time faculty, 5 part-time faculty, numerous adjunct clinical faculty
- First graduation class – May 2024
- Certified by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation
- Mission is to educate primary care physicians with an emphasis on rural and underserved Oklahoma
- William J. Pettit, D.O., is the campus Dean
DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT
- The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is the first tribally
school in America.
- The new medical school is located on the campus of W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Okla. in the heart of the Cherokee Nation.
- Synchronized technology-enabled distance learning at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
in Tulsa will
enable students to study with faculty and collaborate with fellow students located in both Tulsa and Tahlequah.
- The new medical school campus will support our mission of educating primary care physicians with an emphasis on serving Native and rural populations in Oklahoma.
- Medical students will be recruited from around Oklahoma and the United States and will not be restricted to Native Americans.
- Teaching space will include an anatomy laboratory, clinical skills lab, osteopathic
lab, standardized patient labs and a simulation center that will feature a state-of-the-art hospital/clinic
simulation center equipped with life-like, computer-programmed manikins that mimic a number of
medical conditions to teach medical students in specialties such as emergency medicine, pediatric/adult
medicine, labor and delivery and newborn care.
About Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Tahlequah is located in the "Lakes Country" of Northeastern Oklahoma in Cherokee County, with a population of 14,458 according to the 2000 census. The City of Tahlequah is the oldest municipality in Oklahoma by virtue of an incorporation act by the Cherokee National Council of 1843, more than half a century before Oklahoma gained statehood.
Tahlequah has the distinction of being the capital of both the Cherokee Nation and The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
Tahlequah is unique in its location, centered in the midst of the Illinois River Valley with Lake Tenkiller and Lake Fort Gibson close by to provide unlimited recreation and beautiful scenery.