San Antonio's New Medical School Opens This Summer

May 19, 2017

One of the newest medical schools in the country is opening in San Antonio this summer. It’s a school of osteopathic medicine which plans to train its doctors a little differently.

Crews at Brooks City Base are turning four old aerospace medicine buildings of the former Air Force Base into the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine.

  

"I actually was really excited to hear about the school opening here," said 

28-year-old Rachel Hubbard, one of 160 students starting classes here at the end of July.

(left to right) Student Rachel Hubbard, Sharon Gustowski, DO, Anil Mangla, MD, student Ste'Von Voice, and student Jenna Rivera speak about the upcoming school year at the new UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

  

"I actually first started off in research," Hubbard explained. "And I’ve also worked in several emergency departments as an ER scribe and also an ER tech."

Now, when Hubbard finishes the four year program, she’ll have the title of D.O. – doctor of osteopathic medicine. These doctors use traditional medicine and a holistic approach to treatment that includes hands on spinal manipulation and massage therapy. Dr. Sharon Gustowski of the new school explains.

"We use our hands to touch your body, to diagnose it, to find out if muscles and bones are out of place," explains Sharon Gustowski, DO, of the new school. "Then we use our hands to perform manual techniques to put that back into place."

The UIW School of Osteopathic Medicine's 160 students will have some classes in this new auditorium.
Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

  

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine reports about 20 percent of doctors in training right now attend osteopathic medical schools. Many students don’t enroll immediately after getting an undergraduate degree. For instance, Ste’Von Voice from Terrell, Texas, has spent several years working in a morgue.

"Well, I worked in forensic science," Voice said. "I was an autopsy technician."

Voice said he became interested in the social causes of health and death, and he likes the UIW school’s philosophy: Patients are people. They’re not diseases.

"I felt like I belonged here," Voice added.

As part of a push to address lifestyle behaviors, the school is building its own kitchen, where dietitians and nutritionists will teach future doctors how to teach their patients about affordable, healthy eating.

The student will learn "what’s the right way to cook, looking at calories, looking at nutritious types of foods," said the school's Anil Mangla, MD.

Mangla comes from a public health background. He cites evidence that shows only 20 percent of health comes from medical treatments. The other 80 percent is based on genetics, behavior and environment. The students here, he says, will take all of those factors into consideration when dealing with patients.

Four old aerospace medicine buildings at Brooks City-Base are being renovated for the new medical school
Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio

  

"When you look at the well being of an individual, it's not just absence of disease," Mangla stressed. "In the

 osteopathic school, this is what we look at: the soul, mind and body."

Local school districts and the housing authority are helping the school find families for the students to adopt. The medical students will visit them and help them with their healthcare needs.

San Antonio native and new student Jenna Rivera says she plans to practice in the Alamo City when she graduates.

"Here is home for me. And as a student and as a person, I want to be able to give back to where I came from," Rivera said.

The UIW medical school is the second osteopathic medical school to open in Texas and the 33rd in the U.S.