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KOSU is committed to being more reflective of the audiences we serve. In Oklahoma, having stories reported by Indigenous reporters for Native communities is imperative.

Inaugural class graduates from first tribal-affiliated medical school in the U.S.

Caitlin Cosby is hooded by Dr. Natasha Bray during the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine commencement ceremony
Matt Barnard
/
Oklahoma State University
Caitlin Cosby is hooded by Dr. Natasha Bray during the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine commencement ceremony in Tulsa, Okla., on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Late last week graduates from a program created by Oklahoma State University and the Cherokee Nation made history.

The Cherokee Nation is celebrating the first graduates from the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, the nation’s first-ever tribal-affiliated medical school. The students got much of their schooling at the Cherokee Nation’s tribal health facility in Tahlequah.

The ceremony, which took place on May 16 in Tulsa, marks the historic end for the students who first entered the school in 2020 during the pandemic.

“Their dedication not only addresses the critical shortage of rural doctors, but also increases the representation of Native and Cherokee physicians within our health system and other tribal health systems in this state, ensuring top-notch care rooted in culture for generations to come,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin said in a statement.

Of the 46 graduates, 20% are Indigenous, and 35% were matched into rural or tribal residency programs. It’s a significant difference to the 1% of Indigenous students in medical programs nationwide and marks progress toward improving Oklahoma’s poor health outcomes.


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Katie Hallum covers Indigenous Affairs at KOSU.
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