BHSU's proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine achieves candidacy status


MEMPHIS, Tenn.. –Baptist Health Sciences University has earned candidacy status for its proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).

COCA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the accreditor of colleges of osteopathic medicine. COCA establishes, maintains and applies accreditation standards and procedures to ensure academic quality and continuous quality improvement for colleges of osteopathic medicine.

“We are excited to complete this first phase of the application process for the Baptist Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Betty Sue McGarvey, president, Baptist Health Sciences University. “This is a significant milestone for our program, and a great opportunity to advance health care quality and access in the Mid-South.”

Baptist Health Sciences University hired Peter Bell, DO, as vice provost and dean of medical education in 2021 to help open the proposed college of medicine. Bell has decades of doctor of osteopathic medicine expertise, and experience helping other universities gain accreditation for new colleges of osteopathic medicine. The American Osteopathic Association recently honored Bell with the 2022 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the osteopathic medical profession through leadership, excellence, achievement and dedication.

“We look forward to continuing the accreditation process for our proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Bell. “Earning candidacy status is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our implementation team.”

The next step in the accreditation process is achieving pre-accreditation status. Once achieved, the school will recruit the first class of students for fall 2024.

“This school will help fill an important need for the Mid-South because like many areas of the country we are facing a shortage of health care professionals, particularly primary care and family medicine doctors,” said McGarvey. “This need, which was clearly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, has only become more critical since the pandemic started.”

The majority of DOs go into primary care and essential care specialties and tend to serve in rural and underserved communities, all of which is consistent with Baptist Memorial Health Care’s mission of healing, preaching and teaching. Research has also shown that doctors tend to remain in communities where they train, which suggests these doctors are likely to stay in Memphis and the surrounding communities after finishing their education.

Baptist Health Sciences University has hired several doctors of osteopathic medicine, medical doctors and Ph.D.s to serve on its proposed college of medicine faculty. The school will be located on Baptist Health Sciences University’s campus with construction slated to start on an existing building for the school at 1115 Union Ave. this fall.

Baptist Health Sciences University (formerly known as Baptist College of Health Sciences) was started in 1912 and offers 15 majors in nursing and allied health, including undergraduate and graduate degrees and a doctorate of nursing practice. In 2017, the Memphis Business Journal ranked the college first among Memphis-area colleges and universities for the best return on investment. Based on a comparison of postgraduate earnings with cost of attendance, BHSU alumni earn more than graduates of any other college or university in the area. Visit for more information.