ICOM ribbon cutting (copy)

In this stock photo, taken Sept. 5, 2018, Daniel Burrell, founder and main funder of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, gestures toward the school’s building during its ribbon cutting. On Tuesday staff announced Thomas Mohr would serve as the school’s new dean and chief academic officer.

A doctor and associate dean with a San Antonio medical school was chosen to lead Idaho’s medical school in Meridian, which opened last year.

After a nationwide search, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine board named Dr. Thomas Mohr as dean and chief academic advisor, effective Oct. 21. Mohr will replace founding dean Dr. Robert Hasty, who left earlier this year to help open the Kansas Health Science Center.

ICOM staff were informed of the decision Tuesday afternoon.

One of Mohr’s focuses throughout his career has been launching residency programs, the next step of training for medical school graduates in hospitals and clinics.

When Idaho’s medical school announced its opening, medical professionals in the Treasure Valley were worried the state wouldn’t have enough residency spots to train the new doctors; physicians and residency positions were already stretched thin, according to interviews with the Meridian Press in 2016.

Mohr has helped develop more than 25 new residency programs in his career, a trend he plans to continue in Idaho. If medical graduates leave the state for their residency program, which typically spans three years, it’s likely they won’t come back, he said.

“We will be better positioned to meet our mission of improving health care access in Idaho and the surrounding states if we develop more residency programs that will keep (doctors) there,” he said.

The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, or ICOM, plans to graduate roughly 150 students per year, with a goal of addressing the physician shortage in Idaho and surrounding states. Its first class of students will graduate in 2022. This year’s school year started Monday with 324 first- and second-year students.

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Mohr has helped found two other osteopathic medical schools. A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, or D.O., is one avenue to becoming a doctor. Another is a Doctor of Medicine degree, or M.D. Both groups are licensed physicians with similar training and practices, but their philosophies vary.

Mohr is currently the associate dean for graduate medical education at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the executive director and the designated institutional officer for the Texas Institute for Graduate Medical Education and Research.

In his new position, Mohr plans to work with staff to mature the school’s second-year curriculum, the bulk of which “hasn’t even been launched,” Mohr said. On July 1, 2020, students who have finished their second year at ICOM will start their clinical rotations. Mohr said he wants to make sure the local hospitals and clinics are ready to accept students.

“Dr. Mohr’s collaborative leadership style and vision for advancing ICOM, his experience as a practicing physician, and his many accomplishments in advancing both undergraduate and graduate medical education make him extremely well suited to assume the vigorous and challenging duties of Dean/CAO,” ICOM President Tracy Farnsworth said in prepared statement.

Dr. Mohr received his D.O. degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University, and earned a B.S. in biology and M.S. in neurobiology and physiology at Purdue University.

He said he is excited to interface with students in a meaningful way and create residency programs. Already, he said, ICOM staff have laid a “great foundation for the education of our medical students.”

“I think ICOM is poised to make a difference in the health care needs in the community,” he said.

Patty Bowen is the Meridian Press reporter. You can reach her at pbowen@idahopress.com or follow her on Twitter @pattybowenMP.

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