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Xavier Launches a Medical School

Opening in 2027, the new college will tackle growing demand for healthcare talent.

by Sarah M. Mullins

Xavier University is breaking ground on a new College of Osteopathic Medicine this fall, aiming to attract medical students to campus and to town. Provost and Chief Academic Officer Rachel Chrastil says the state of Ohio is facing a physician shortage, with a need for 700 new physicians in the next few years.

“Xavier is interested in this particular project because of our long-standing strength in health sciences and in pre-med,” says Chrastil. “Xavier has sent students to medical schools at a rate twice the national average. The national average is that about 40 percent of applicants are accepted into medical school, but with Xavier graduates it’s more like 85 percent.” By researching the demand and supply for medical schools, she says, XU leadership discovered that there are far more qualified applicants for medical school than there are available seats.

Graduates of the new program will become osteopathic doctors (DO). Medical doctor (MD) and DO degrees have become more similar over time, says Chrastil. DOs are trained in a holistic manner to consider the musculoskeletal system and the body as a whole. Both MDs and DOs enter the same residency programs, pass the same board exams, and undergo similar training.

The program’s curriculum will include two years of classroom and labs and two years of clinical rotations. Chrastil says Xavier will work closely with health systems to identify clinical placements for their students and expand existing partnerships with health systems in the Greater Cincinnati area, such as TriHealth, which operates the Health United Building on campus.

Xavier leaders project the College of Osteopathic Medicine to have strong economic and societal impacts, estimating more than $48 million in annual economic impact and more than 350 permanent jobs. “This is very much a Cincinnati and a Southwestern Ohio regional project that happened to take place on the Xavier campus,” says Chrastil. “Xavier joined the Big East Conference about 10 years ago, and that’s been an incredible shift for our athletic program. This new medical college is the ‘Big East moment’ for academics.”

Steven Halm, DO, started at Xavier in February as the program’s initial dean. He previously served as dean of the highly-rated Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine for four years.

Due to the complex and comprehensive accreditation process, the program won’t start accepting applications until the admission period leading up to fall 2027. An anonymous donation of $50 million to the project in December enabled planning for and construction of a new College of Osteopathic Medicine building, estimated to be 90,000-110,000 square feet in size, on Dana Avenue land that’s currently vacant.