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New Gwinnett medical college receives accreditation

SUWANEE - The newest medical school in Georgia received official accreditation this week following an extensive two-year process.

The Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is based in Suwanee, received an extension of the accreditation held by the college's main campus in Philadelphia.

The college started offering classes in August to a class of 83 students who are now finishing up their first year of medical school.

"Our faculty, students and staff have worked very hard over the past two years to see this day. Now our campus is included under the full accreditation status as the Philadelphia campus, after starting classes only nine months ago," said Paul Evans, chief academic officer for the Georgia campus.

Unlike most other medical colleges, it offers a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree (DO). That differs from a doctor of medicine degree (MD) in its holistic approach to working with patients. Osteopathic medical students focus on preventative care and receive extra instruction on the musculoskeletal system, which makes up the nerves, muscles and bones of a person.

Preparation for the accreditation process began in April 2003, when the Philadelphia college's board of trustees authorized the establishment of a branch in Georgia. One of the goals of the institution is to increase the number of trained osteopathic doctors working in rural areas.

John Fleischmann, the campus executive officer, said receiving the accreditation had been a priority for the college since the beginning.

The accreditation "assures that our graduates will be recognized throughout the osteopathic profession as qualified physicians who will provide outstanding health care services to their communities, as well as play a key role in promoting the profession," Fleischmann said.

A team from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation visited the campus for three days in mid-February to review its facilities and documentation and interview administrators, faculty, staff and students.

The college is housed in a 150,000-square-foot building off Old Peachtree Road in Suwanee. It will accept another 86 students into its medical program this year. Another 50 students are expected to enroll in its new biomedical science program, which begins this fall.

For more information on the Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, visit http://www.pcom.edu/General_Information/georgia/georgia.html.