Officials with the Florida Institute of Technology and Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine are scheduled to make “a major joint announcement” during a Thursday morning event on FIT’s Melbourne campus.
Florida Tech’s communications office declined to release details, and messages sent to the Burrell College communications department were not returned.
But during a November speech, Florida Tech Interim President Robert King announced his university would soon announce a partnership with a medical school.
“We are about to announce a partnership with a medical school that will be working on our campus and providing pathways into their education for our students,” King told a Melbourne Regional Chamber audience at Crowne Plaza Melbourne-Oceanfront.
The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In August 2020, Florida Tech officials touted a new medical-student partnership with the school and Steward Health Care, which operates Rockledge Regional Medical Center and Melbourne Regional Medical Center.
That’s when nine Burrell College medical students enrolled in the program to live in off-campus housing near Florida Tech and conduct clinical rotations at both hospitals and Steward Medical Group clinics.
The partnership launched with 14 medical specialties, including gastroenterology, forensic psychiatry, ophthalmology and interventional cardiology. The students have access to Florida Tech’s facilities, ranging from the student union and libraries to meal service, athletic facilities and the campus health center.
“We are pleased to offer our students these additional learning opportunities in Florida,” Burrell College President and CEO John Hummer said in an August 2020 news release.
“The Space Coast of Florida and New Mexico have a long history of strong relationships and partnerships, including the establishment and success of the U.S. space programs. We are excited to see this new medical partnership come to the same fruition,” Hummer said in the release.
During an August 2020 FLORIDA TODAY interview, former Florida Tech president T. Dwayne McCay said an osteopathic medical school may open in Melbourne in three years.
Thursday’s joint announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Denius Student Center at Florida Tech.
“Myself and leaders of the chamber had the opportunity recently to sit down with Dr. Hummer from Burrell College to hear about their plans, and I couldn’t be more excited with the news coming soon and the tremendous positive impact it will have on our community,” said Michael Ayers, president and CEO of the Melbourne Regional Chamber, said in a text message.
Ayers deferred further comment on the topic until Thursday’s announcement.
Burrell College is a private, free-standing medical school, but it operates in close affiliation with New Mexico State University.
“In a unique public-private partnership, the College’s students have access to many university facilities and services, such as athletics, intramural sports, some health services and recreational facilities,” the Burrell College website says.
“The College’s students can also utilize NMSU’s housing and meal services, at an additional cost. Burrell College’s 80,000 square foot newly constructed building is located at the Arrowhead Research Park on the NMSU campus, adjacent to the football stadium.”
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