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Morgan State University is pursuing an agreement to open a privately-built and operated medical school on campus by 2023.
Morgan State University is pursuing an agreement to open a privately-built and operated medical school on campus by 2023. (Xavier Plater / Baltimore Sun)

Morgan State University is considering letting a private company open a new medical school on its Northeast Baltimore campus that could open as early as 2023, the school announced Thursday.

The medical school would offer a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, a D.O. rather than an M.D. degree. Osteopathic doctors have the same certification to practice medicine as graduates of other medical schools, but they take a more holistic approach to treating patients.

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Morgan State is exploring a partnership with a private company to build the medical school. While located on Morgan’s campus, the school would be built with private investment and independently operated with a dean and faculty separate from Morgan’s.

The medical school could have 550 students by its fourth year. A name for the institution has not been chosen.

Morgan State President David Wilson said he was approached about two years ago by Salud LLC, a company that wanted to build the osteopathic medical school. After visiting a similar school on the New Mexico State University campus and researching the subject, Wilson said he became convinced that it was worth exploring a partnership.

Fewer African American men are entering medical school now than in the 1970s, he said.

“Not only have we not seen an increase in African American males entering medical schools," Wilson said, "they are not serving the population that is really in need of more medical care.”

Amid a shortage of doctors and booming demand for new ones, several dozen new medical schools have opened across the United States in the past decade and more are planned, many of them osteopathic schools.

Morgan’s Board of Regents gave Wilson approval in November to explore signing an agreement with Salud to build the medical school, and to “raise our hands to be on the front lines of producing medical doctors who can respond to some of the medical challenges we see within our cities and our rural areas.”

The arrangement would require little from Morgan. Salud would raise about $120 million to $130 million in capital through a large African American investment firm, said George Mychaskiw, Salud’s chief learning officer and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. The company, he said, is committed to educating minority doctors who will work in underserved communities.

The new medical school, if built, would have to go through an extensive accreditation process, including gaining approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The agency did not respond to questions about the approval process, including how long it might take.

Baltimore already has two medical schools, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, both of which are affiliated with their respective hospitals.

Wilson said it is likely his university would tear down an existing building that is in poor shape somewhere on the campus in order to make room for the new medical school.

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