In the rural parts of Oklahoma, there’s a newly founded medical school sitting in the Cherokee Nation, training the members of the Nation to become physicians at the Nation clinics
Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN) is the first tribally associated medical school in the country, and they just had their inaugural class after opening this fall.
The Cherokee Nation’s former principal, Bill John Baker is widely credited with spurring the project as far as it has come, which even included the decision to sell the Nation’s private jet to help begin the new investment in a Cherokee Nation medical system, which first drew the attention of Oklahoma State University (OSU) to the idea of opening a medical school on reservation land.
According to MedScape, Bill John Baker said:
After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers, this is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors.Bill John Baker
Indeed below half of 1% of the country’s physicians are eligible for tribal citizenship, but before growing their own doctors, Bill John Baker refurbished rural Nation clinics and financed the largest tribally owned outpatient facility in the country.
At the grand opening in October, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said:
The Cherokee Nation is excited to open this beautiful new facility that allows us to serve more of our citizens, and offer more services than they ever had before. This facility is a real game changer that will improve our overall health system and is a huge investment in our local economy. It is a blessing for me to see former Chief Bill John Baker’s vision come to fruition because of what it means for our citizens.Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.