A new medical education institution may soon come to Utah County, developed by Wasatch Educational (WE).

Named after the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation, who have committed $50 million towards the project, the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (NCOM) could be a premier medical education and research institution offering innovative and transformational curriculum and advanced medical technology focused on preparing physicians to provide high-quality healthcare services including preventative care to help people stay well.

The commitment, along with a significant commitment from the developer, provides most of the funds needed for construction and operation of the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We are honored to partner with the Noorda Foundation and our other partners to bring the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine to Utah County,” said Dr. Michael Skurja, president of WE. “We believe the institution may inspire and motivate local students to pursue a career in medicine and may provide a community choice for those already committed to a medical career while providing an increase in the quality of life for the people of Utah.”

There are a few Utah County site locations for the proposed NCOM now under consideration. WE has submitted a site proposal for its preferred location in Provo to the Municipal Council for consideration. The proposal is subject to approval by that body.

“Potential graduates could become some of the best-educated physicians available,” said Dr. Richard P. Nielsen, vice president of Wasatch Educational. “Over time, the good they could perform could help millions of people including many hundreds of thousands right here in Utah.”

Along with other medical schools in Utah, the proposed NCOM could supply physicians to help offset a growing physician shortage. Research from the Utah Medical Association Council estimates the state will need approximately 375 new physicians each year to meet medical needs. In 2015, the American Medical Association ranked Utah 49th in primary care physicians to population ratio and 43rd in overall physicians to population ratios. And according to data from Utah universities, approximately 400 students leave the state each year to attend medical school in other states.

WE is comprised of a Board of Directors including the founders and executives of Provo’s Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP). WE is managing the development of the proposed NCOM and is the parent company for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

  • Dr. Michael Skurja, Jr. is the president of WE. He is also the executive vice president of operations for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
  • Dr. Richard P. Nielsen is the vice president of WE. He also serves as the founding president of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

The proposed NCOM and RMUoHP could establish affiliation relationships though both would be independent and freestanding institutions overseen by separate Governing Boards.

The WE proposal to Provo, subject to approval by the Provo Municipal Council, recommends building the medical school on 24 acres of the northwestern part of the East Bay Golf Course (approximately 11 percent of the total golf course acreage). The proposal also asks for an option of the southwestern wedge of the course, which is not exercisable for a minimum of 15 years. The proposal also suggests eventually relocating the RMUoHP campus next to the proposed NCOM.

If the proposal is accepted, the City of Provo would professionally move three current golf holes of the northwestern part to the southeast corner of the existing course at the expense of the developers. The move will enhance the existing 18-hole championship course with no change to the current driving range, all other buildings and property on the course including the clubhouse, and the 7-hole executive short course for at least the next 15 years.

According to a recent independent economic impact study by Bonneville Research, the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine could potentially provide more than $62 million in construction business, 236 construction related jobs and possibly bring more than 121 institution related jobs to the county. It may attract other health, medical, biomedical, biotechnology, retail, and related spin-off businesses.

In a later phase, a new Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions campus will be built adjacent to the proposed institution. At full operation, the local economic impact of both campuses could be approximately $100 million annually and could include 1,500 jobs and more than $83 million in construction business (the proposed NCOM and RMUoHP combined). All of this may substantially increase the property tax base including an estimated $8 million directed to the Provo School District in the first 15 years.

The development plans include significant green space in and around the campuses, creating a park-like atmosphere to protect and preserve the environment, nature, wildlife, and birdlife.

A search for a Founding Dean for the proposed institution is currently underway. The proposed medical program is currently in applicant status seeking accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). Applicant status is offered without rights or privileges of the COCA accreditation, and does not establish, suggest or imply recognition or accreditation status by the COCA. Milestones in the accreditation process must be met over the coming years and the medical education institution must achieve Pre-Accreditation Status in order to admit students. The timeline for recruiting and admitting the inaugural class for the medical education institution is dependent on securing that status.