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Fauci Effect: More than 2,000 students apply at Provo’s Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

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Currently enrolling inaugural class of 90 medical students

PROVO, Utah, Jan. 13, 2021 – The Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) Board of Trustees announced it has received nearly 2,100 applications to date for its inaugural 2021 class of 90 students. The significant and diverse number of applicants follows a national trend of increased medical school applications due in part to the so-called “Fauci Effect.”

The Fauci Effect is a reference to an approximately 18 percent increase, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, in the number of students applying to medical school throughout the United States for the 2021 academic year – a significant increase from the same time in 2020. Many of the applicants indicate they want to go into medicine to help solve the COVID-19 problem or indicating the pandemic has heightened their resolve in attending medical school.

Prospective students among the nearly 2,100 applicants to Noorda-COM will soon be accepted for enrollment after the college was recently granted Pre-Accreditation status from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), paving the way for the college to begin enrolling students for its fall 2021 inaugural class.

“The students we are enrolling for this inaugural class have planned to go to medical school for many years,” said the founding dean and chief academic officer Dr. John Dougherty.  “The COVID-19 pandemic may have confirmed their commitment to pursue medicine, but we believe we will see an even greater impact on enrollment related to the pandemic in the coming years.”

Noorda-COM also announced it has established affiliation partner agreements with most of the healthcare systems, many hospitals, and physician practice groups in Utah. The affiliation partnerships will allow Noorda-COM’s future third-year students to complete core clinical education at facilities within an easy 30- 40-minute drive from the Noorda-COM campus in Provo. This will make it easier for students to stay in Utah to meet their clinical education (rotation) requirements.

Noorda-COM Pre-Accreditation Status

Since receiving the status to recruit students in July, Noorda-COM has received nearly 2,000 applications from a diverse group of prospective students. Noorda-COM’s application pool to date is in the top-five most diverse osteopathic colleges in the country. This level of interest also reinforces a trend across the country that the COVID-19 pandemic may be encouraging many people to go into medicine. The fall 2021 inaugural class will include 90 medical students. When all four years are at maximum enrollment, Noorda-COM will have 194 medical students in each class, becoming the Intermountain West’s largest medical school.

“Reaching this important milestone in Noorda-COM’s accreditation process is the result of several years of hard work on the part of many individuals within the Noorda-COM campus community,” said Dougherty. “Now that we have received Pre-Accreditation, we are excited to move forward in welcoming our inaugural class of students in 2021.”

The Pre-Accreditation designation comes after an application process which included two comprehensive self-studies, a virtual site visit, and stringent reviews by the COCA Commissioners. It has been a challenging process, but successful due to the ongoing collaborations of Noorda-COM’s faculty, staff, trustees and clinical partners.

“We couldn’t be more excited to reach this most important step in the accreditation process for Noorda-COM,” said Dr. Richard P. Nielsen, Noorda-COM founding president and CEO. “Pre-Accreditation allows Noorda-COM to fully move onward in opening its doors for medical students in the fall of 2021. Pursuant to COCA regulations, Noorda-COM can qualify for full accreditation status once the inaugural class graduates.”

Noorda-COM Affiliation Partners

“Not only will students be able to stay locally for their core third-year rotations, they will experience a variety of healthcare systems and facilities from an operational standpoint, as well as gaining valuable inpatient and outpatient experience,” said Dr. Michael Rhodes, associate dean of clinical affairs at Noorda-COM. “It goes beyond our students affiliating with multiple medical systems, it exposes them to a diversity of patients, various approaches to medicine and healthcare, and different ways of thinking.”

Affiliation partners include Intermountain Healthcare and its system of hospitals:  Utah Valley Hospital, Orem Community Hospital, American Fork Hospital, Riverton Hospital, the future Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi, Utah, and the future Spanish Fork Hospital. Additional partners include Steward Health’s Mountain Point Hospital and Jordan Valley Medical Center, Revere Health’s subspecialty clinics, Utah State Hospital, Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital, Utah Valley Specialty Hospital, Premiere Family Medicine, Canyon View Medical Group, Southwest Spine and Pain, Utah Valley Pediatrics, Utah Surgical Associates, and a partnership with Central Valley Medical Center in Nephi, Utah and Castleview Hospital in Price, Utah who can provide students with experience in rural settings.

It is anticipated additional partnerships could be added over time.

Noorda-COM is using a six-week clinical curricular model. The extended on-campus preparation and testing will better prepare Noorda-COM students for their patient care.

These affiliation partnerships provide a resource for Noorda-COM medical students who, with the curriculum model, will stay on campus the first week of their six-week clinical education running through scenarios and simulations before beginning their rotations during weeks two through five. Following each rotation, students will be tested on what they learned. The rotation programs are being developed based on the curriculum with the assistance of the affiliation partners.

“It is very important for the students to be in close proximity to the medical school for their rotations,” said Rhodes. “A number of our students will be married, and some will have families. It can become disruptive for them to pick up and move to do one month in one specialty, and then move again for a specialty in a different area. Also, by having these rotation sites here in Utah, Juab, and Salt Lake counties, students from Noorda-COM can have a positive impact on healthcare in our local communities. It is much better for the students and for the community when they can receive their experiences all in one area due to the great affiliation partnerships we’ve been able to start here.”

The inaugural class of Noorda-COM students will begin in the fall of 2021. They will become third year students in the fall of 2023 when they begin their clinical education with these affiliation partners.

Quotes from some of Noorda-COM’s affiliation partners:

Intermountain Healthcare

“Intermountain Healthcare is committed to being part of this workforce of the future and we look forward to partnering with Noorda-COM and others across the state,” said Marc Harrison, MD, Intermountain Healthcare president and CEO, and Mark Briesacher, MD, chief physician executive of Intermountain Healthcare, in a letter. “The future of healthcare in Utah is bright and with the growth we’re experiencing, Utah has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the healthcare delivery workforce of the future. This diverse workforce will meet patients, families and consumers where they are at, provide the safest and best care, and do so in an affordable and sustainable way.”

Mountain Point Medical Center (A Steward Health Care Hospital)

“It is wonderful Noorda-COM is coming to our community,” said Kent Loosle, president of Mountain Point Medical Center. “It will be a wonderful way for local Utah students to receive their medical education and degrees and will also help our hospital in the recruitment of highly qualified physicians. We are pleased to play an important role with our participation as an affiliation partner for the benefit of Noorda-COM’s students and our community.”

Revere Health

“As one of the largest and fastest-growing healthcare providers in Utah, we’re excited to have an additional educational institution providing physician training in the area, the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Scott Barlow, CEO of Revere Health. “This will allow those interested in a career in medicine to have an additional opportunity for their training. Revere Health is excited to provide clinical rotations to assist in that training process. We look forward to recruiting those students to add to our medical staff to further achieve our success in improving health outcomes and lowering the costs of healthcare for the patients of this region.”

Castleview Hospital, Price, Utah

“We are excited to be involved with Noorda-COM in the education of medical students and helping them see the benefits of what rural medicine has to offer,” said Dr. Travis Engar, DO, Chief of Staff at Castleview Hospital. “Many highly trained physicians choose to practice in rural areas to have a closer relationship with their patients as they often associate with them in their community as well. This creates a strong sense of family and belonging that isn’t easy to experience in an urban environment. There are fabulous physicians in rural Utah that are highly skilled and adept at what they do. They have purposefully chosen rural medicine over metropolitan positions for that patient relationship and the uncongested outdoor lifestyle. We look forward to providing excellent training as well as offering a different perspective of medicine than what students experience in urban or university settings.”

Utah Valley Specialty Hospital

“The team at Utah Valley Specialty Hospital is excited to have the opportunity to work with Noorda-COM and play a small part in educating the next generation of physicians,” said Brynn Beck, CEO, Utah Valley Specialty Hospital.

Premier Family Medical

“Premier Family Medical is pleased to participate in the clinical experience of Noorda-COM students. We feel that this is a unique opportunity to teach the young doctors and to continue our own education and development,” said Michael L Cosgrave, MD, Premier Family Medical.

About the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

Located in Provo, Utah, Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) is a medical school offering an innovative and unique medical education approach. Noorda-COM provides 21st-century medical students a curricular model blending active, small group learning with advanced laboratory experiences and research opportunities while also emphasizing school and life balance with a commitment to health and wellness. Noorda-COM focuses on preparing future residency-ready physicians committed to providing patient-centered healthcare. Noorda-COM is a private, proprietary institution. A governing Board of Trustees oversees Noorda-COM, which received Pre-Accreditation Status by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

A. Cory Maloy
Maloy PR

Employee Profile – October

By Culture + CommunityNo Comments

Casey Himmeslbach, MBA, MSML

Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Casey Himmelsbach. Dean of Student affairs at noorda com

Casey Himmelsbach joined Noorda-COM during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, coming to Utah from her hometown of Joplin, Missouri. No stranger to overcoming challenges, Casey describes herself as caring, thoughtful, and determined – three characteristics which have defined her both personally and professionally.

Casey’s passion for education started with her mother.  “She had an eighth-grade education and completed her GED as a single mom with no support from my incarcerated father,” said Himmelsbach.  “She taught me how to read by the time I was three and instilled in me the belief that college was not an option but a requirement.”

To help support her family, Casey attended her local university where she excelled in a rigorous honors program while also working fulltime.  She graduated with a BS in Health Promotion and had already begun her full-time job as a public health educator at a rural health department before graduation.

Casey Himmelsbach and her mother

Then an EF-5 tornado devastated her hometown, and she redirected her attention for helping to rebuild the community that built her.  After holding positions in healthcare and education – all focused on connecting students to future careers in healthcare – Casey jumped at the chance to be a part of a new College of Osteopathic Medicine opening in Joplin.

Casey went on to obtain her master’s in management and leadership as well as her MBA.  But this path required tenacity and determination.  “Within three months of my program starting, my world turned upside down, said Himmelsbach.  “My father entered hospice, my mother passed away, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, I almost lost my husband to a line-of-duty shooting, and I helped start a brand new medical school campus, all during my studies!”

After learning about Noorda-COM through the close circles within the osteopathic medical education community, Casey became interested in joining Noorda-COM because of its student-centric philosophy.  “I knew that Noorda-COM was a place that I wanted to be in order to help make the changes that I knew would benefit our students, the medical education system, and our future patients, for the better. I am very excited to be here and help lead a team of compassionate, caring, and competent student affairs professionals.”

Casey is building a team in Student Affairs that will help shape and guide the inaugural class of Noorda-COM medical students and beyond.  According to Himmelsbach, “our team brings a diverse background of life experiences, education, and varied perspectives on how we can best serve our students.”  The student affairs team demonstrates their passion for working with and helping students achieve their goals.  “I want to inspire my team to work hard, take care of themselves and others, and to model life-long learning and growth to our students,” said Himmelsbach.

This work-live balance mantra is demonstrated by Casey to her colleagues, friends, and future students.  A self-defined “complete nerd”, she loves reading, her family games together (in fact, Casey and her 11-year-old daughter are currently cooperatively playing through the complete Halo franchise), and she loves attending concerts and festivals.

Casey Himmelsbach and her family

A caring nature, perseverance, and the promise she made to her mother got Casey through challenging times and has led her to the place she is today. Dean Dougherty often says that she wears her heart on her sleeve but for Casey it is truly a passion to help connect people with their dreams.  “I like to lay out a vision for the best-case scenario and help people connect their own dots,” said Himmelsbach.  “If you tell me something is not possible, I will do my best to figure out a way to make it happen.  I love a challenge.”


Casey Himmelsbach can be reached at

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