PAH Partners with IUP

Clinical Training Affiliation Agreement for IUP Proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Punxsutawney Area Hospital
signed a clinical training affiliation agreement for students in IUP’s proposed college of
osteopathic medicine.
This is the first clinical training affiliation agreement between IUP and a hospital or medical
center. “IUP has a long and proud history of partnerships and collaborations with the Punxsutawney
community, from our Academy of Culinary Arts to our regional campus,” IUP President Dr.
Michael Driscoll said. “Our commitment to Punxsutawney and to providing educational
opportunities to students in the region is strong and solid,” he said.
“Now, we’re looking to Punxsutawney to provide educational opportunities for our students in
the proposed college of osteopathic medicine, so this agreement takes our partnership to a new
level,” he said. “This is an outstanding opportunity for students in our proposed college of
osteopathic medicine to learn from talented, committed medical professionals who care deeply
about patient wellness,” he said.
“IUP and Punxsutawney Area Hospital share a commitment to addressing the critical need for
rural health care, so this is a perfect match,” President Driscoll said. “This agreement promises
unique opportunities for our students to continue their medical training in a setting that values
outstanding, compassionate, and community-based care,” he said.
IUP has formally initiated steps towards accreditation of its proposed college of osteopathic
medicine from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College
Accreditation, a three- to five-year process that includes submission of self-studies and a
feasibility study, along with site visits. Securing clinical training sites for students is part of the
successful accreditation process.
“As a member of the Punxsutawney Area Hospital Foundation Board of Directors and the IUP
Council of Trustees, I see a wonderful connection here,” IUP Council of Trustees Chairman Sam
Smith said. “This agreement is great for training of IUP’s future students in a rural hospital,
which is our main objective, but this also compliments our hospital’s ongoing partnership with
Indiana Regional Medical Center. IRMC has been a vital ally with IUP as our proposed
osteopathic medical school seeks accreditation and its relationship with the Punxsutawney Area
Hospital allows these three organizations to mesh together in a positive and special way,”
Trustee Smith said.
“I commend both institutions for their outstanding work to further advance healthcare and
educational opportunities within our region,” Senator Joe Pittman said. “This collaborative
agreement takes a significant step forward for IUP’s new College of Osteopathic Medicine and
will ultimately help to make our region a hub of rural healthcare delivery for our state and
“IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine has the potential to develop top-notch health
care providers, and the college’s partnership with Punxsutawney Area Hospital will show these
students the importance of rural health care,” Rep. Brian Smith said.
“Big cities often have several health systems, while rural communities are lucky to have one
within an hour’s drive. This partnership provides students an opportunity to hone their skills in
rural Pennsylvania, and hopefully develop an appreciation for how vital rural hospitals are to our
Typically, students in colleges of osteopathic medicine spend the first two years in the
classroom; during the third and fourth years, students are trained at clinical sites.
“I think the most important reason for entering into this agreement is to allow access to health
care and to show young people that this is still a desirable, worthwhile, and rewarding avenue,”
Punxsutawney Area Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clark Simpson said.
“Too many doctors come out and want to be in the city and they forget that being in a
community is very rewarding. It gives you a sense of ownership – it’s a privilege to have these
patients put their faith in us, and we are so excited about this opportunity to work with IUP’s
proposed college of osteopathic medicine and their students,” he said.
“One of the things that makes Punxsutawney Area Hospital such a great place to be is that
people come here for a career, and they stay. We are here to stay. We’ve had incredible support
from everyone as we’ve grown the hospital. This is a great place to show young doctors what it
means to be at a community hospital,” he said. “There are not a lot of layers here and we take
patient care very personally – it’s not just a job, it’s a passion. Dr. Simpson’s parents are Punxsutawney natives; he was born in nearby Dubois, but he has been
at Punxsutawney Area Hospital for 23 years.
“While I wasn’t born here, this is my community and I know how important this hospital is to
this community. I’m not worried about the next two years; I’m worried about the next 20 years. I
want a hospital here not just for my generation but for the next generations. We have an
opportunity and ability to put a rural medical school in Indiana and start to populate rural
physicians, and to make it attractive again.”
As catalyst to support physician recruitment, the Punxsutawney Area Hospital formed the
Punxsutawney Area Hospital Foundation (PAHF) in fall 2023. The mission of the foundation is
to advance community health and wellness through philanthropy and support of Punxsutawney
Area Hospital.
One of the highlighted areas of focus of the Board of Directors has notably been physician
recruitment with the establishment of a specific fund to support these efforts.
“As the chair of the Foundation Board, I am excited to explore opportunities PAHF and specific
physician recruitment fund can help support the efforts of the college of osteopathic medicine
and advance rural health care at Punxsutawney Area Hospital,” Dr. Simpson said.
Dr. Miko Rose was hired as the founding dean of the proposed college of osteopathic medicine
in November 2023; the hiring of a founding dean is one of the first steps to establishing the
“Punxsutawney Area Hospital is the model of a successful community rural hospital, with a
philosophy and commitment to community that we want our students to understand and to
embrace,” Dr. Rose said. “We are looking for those hidden healthcare heroes, the talented
students who are committed to making a difference in rural health care, and Punxsutawney Area
Hospital is exactly the right place for them to become talented physicians—committed and
empathetic healthcare professionals who understand the importance of community.
“Having strong clinical training affiliation agreements in place is an essential step in the
accreditation process. We are proud and grateful for this agreement,” she said.
“Punxsutawney Area Hospital has been member of the PA Mountains Healthcare Alliance since
its inception back in 1996 and represents a shining example of how community care can not only
survive, but thrive in these ever-changing times, Pennsylvania Mountains Healthcare Alliance
President and CEO Joe Gribik said.
“With a strong medical staff, excellent leadership, and a Board dedicated to ensuring that local
healthcare is maintained, PAH continues to show an alternative to path to the typical modal of
becoming a part of a system where all strategic decisions are made in another location,” Gribik
In December 2022, IUP’s Council of Trustees endorsed the exploration of a possible
development of a college of osteopathic medicine at IUP. The university chose to explore a
proposed college of osteopathic medicine based on several factors, including the critical need for
rural health care: there are not enough trained physicians to provide care to Pennsylvania’s
citizens: the ratio of patients to available primary care physicians is 1,367 to 1, according to the
United Health Foundation.
There are only three colleges of osteopathic medicine in Pennsylvania, all at private universities;
IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine would be the only college of osteopathic
medicine at a public university. National studies show that osteopathic medicine graduates are
more likely to pursue primary care in rural and underserved areas—57 percent of all doctors of
osteopathic medicine practice as general practitioners, and more than 20 percent of DO graduates
practice in rural areas.
Demand is high for osteopathic medicine training: in 2021, 22,708 applicants competed for 8,280
seats at schools of osteopathic medicine. IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine continues to draw support from individual donors, foundations, and from legislators.
In June, the Foundation for IUP committed $20 million to support IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic
medicine. In May, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler included $2 million for IUP’s project among
his FY25 requested community projects and Senator John Fetterman included $2 million for
IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine project on his list to advance in the FY25
Community Project Funding (CPF) process.
The proposed college of osteopathic medicine received a $150,000 allocation in the federal
Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which was sponsored by Congressman
Reschenthaler and Senator John Fetterman and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March
In January, IUP’s Alumni Association Board of Directors authorized a donation of $500,000 to
IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine project. In May 2023, Rich Caruso, a 1983
accounting graduate from Meadow Lands, 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and
former president of the Foundation for IUP Board of Directors and current board member,
announced a pledge of $1 million for the project.
In December 2023, Senator Joe Pittman announced that as part of the 2023-2024 state budget, $2
million was set aside for IUP’s new college of osteopathic medicine. These new dollars are an
investment above and beyond what IUP receives in the budget and will be used largely to
support the operations at the start of the medical school.
In July 2023, IUP graduates Nick Jacobs and Mary Ann Hoysan Jacobs donated $40,000 to
advance the project. Nick Jacobs is a 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient who has a
1969 bachelor’s degree in education and a 1972 master’s degree in music education; Mary Ann
Jacobs has a 1968 bachelor’s degree in music education and a 1993 master’s degree in adult and
community education.