© 2024 WFIT
Public Radio for the Space Coast
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Florida Tech Announce Plans to Open Medical School in Melbourne

 Students in a lecture hall on Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine's campus is Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Florida Tech
Students in a lecture hall on Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine's campus is Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Two of the nation’s leading institutions of higher education will work together to bring Brevard County its first medical school, leaders announced today.

The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) and Florida Institute of Technology have entered into an affiliation agreement to establish a four-year osteopathic medical school on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus.

“We are excited about our proposed new campus in affiliation with Florida Tech. Over the past three years, we have operated a regional academic center in Brevard County for our medical students’ clinical clerkship rotations; 34 of our third- and fourth-year students are currently conducting these rotations,” said John L. Hummer, co-founder and president of BCOM. “Based upon the success of this regional academic center and the positive relationships established with key stakeholders, the natural next step was to develop an additional four-year medical school location in Florida.”

The need for physicians is growing rapidly in the Sunshine State.

Florida will be short approximately 18,000 physicians by 2035, according to a 2021 study from The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and the Florida Hospital Association. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that only 32% of Florida’s population has adequate primary care and that nearly half of primary care physicians are expected to retire in the next 15 to 20 years.

Additionally, in 2021 research into the medical workforce, AAMC found that 47.4% of Florida-based medical school graduates practiced medicine in Florida and 78.8% of physicians who completed both medical school and residency in Florida remained in the state to practice.

“We desperately need the next generation of highly trained physicians around Florida and across our nation,” said Florida Tech Interim President Robert King. “This affiliation with the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine allows Florida Tech and its students to be part of the solution to one of the biggest challenges facing our society today—ensuring adequate access to high-quality medical professionals. We are excited about the prospects.”

BCOM executed the affiliation documents to open the additional location with Florida Tech in November 2022 contingent upon final approval from the college’s accrediting body and state licensure. The inaugural class will include 100 students and is expected to matriculate in July 2024 and to graduate in May 2028.

“We are grateful for Florida Tech’s invitation to establish a mutually beneficial affiliation agreement, which is based upon a shared mission of addressing the significant physician shortage, especially in underserved areas,” said Dr. Bill Pieratt, dean of BCOM.

The medical school will be in Florida Tech’s L3Harris Commons via a sublease agreement. Burrell students will be able to use Florida Tech’s libraries, fitness facilities, student health services and housing. The agreement also allows for collaborative research and teaching opportunities between both institutions. A vital component of the affiliation agreement is the Medical School Pathway program, whereby Florida Tech pre-med students will be guaranteed admission into Burrell if they meet the established criteria for academic performance.

Marco Carvalho, Florida Tech’s executive vice president, provost and chief operating officer, said with their success in shaping the brightest young minds with hands-on instruction and cutting-edge technology, BCOM and Florida Tech are a logical and powerful fit.

“We are pleased to welcome Burrell to our campus and look forward to the academic and research connections we will most certainly forge,” Carvalho said.

To date, Burrell’s campus in New Mexico has graduated 430 osteopathic physicians. Of its graduates, 99.5% have been successfully placed into medical and surgical residency training programs. Currently, Florida ranks third in the country among the states where Burrell’s applicants reside.

Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions. According to the Osteopathic Medical Profession Report, the number of osteopathic physicians in the U.S. climbed to nearly 135,000 in 2021. Today, one in four medical students in the U.S. are training to be osteopathic physicians.