ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Filling a need for more doctors and growing demand for physicians, local leaders are working to lessen the impacts of a nationwide and local physician labor shortage.

What You Need To Know

  • A brand-new medical school is opening up in Horizon West

  • The Orlando College of Osteopathic Medicine and AdventHealth University formed a partnership to guarantee interviews for admission for their pre-med students

  • The new $200-million project includes the land itself, the med-school and apartments being built beside the medical school

A brand-new medical school is on track to open in Horizon West in August.

The new $200-million project includes the land itself, the med-school and apartments being built beside the medical school.

The $75 million out of that is a 25-acre med school campus with research labs and group rooms — it’s called the Orlando College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“A medical school will be a game changer in this area,” said Dr. Robert Hasty, who’s the dean of the Orlando College of Osteopathic Medicine, also known as OCOM.

Hasty has been at the forefront of the project. He says the goal through this partnership is to keep more doctors in Central Florida.

“Nationally, there is a physician shortage in America, and Central Florida is probably one of the epicenters for great projected physician shortage needs,” he said.

Through a partnership with AdventHealth University, students will be guaranteed interviews for admission.

“We’re especially excited because there’s a shortfall of physicians locally and nationally, so they’re opening up and making available the admission interview for our students, which is challenging getting into medical school,” said Dr. Anael Santos, chair of the health and biomedical sciences department at AdventHealth University.

Spectrum News 13 spoke with pre-med student Axel Mendez at AdventHealth University who plans to apply to OCOM.

“I eventually want to be a cardiologist, and what really inspired me was there’s this one doctor that worked at my mom’s clinic and he was always so happy and joyful and he kind of gave that to others. He always made people smile,” said Mendez.

Mendez, who grew up in Atlanta with parents from Guatemala, has one year left as a pre-med student. He says his family is all in the medical field. His brother is an EMT and his sister and mother are nurses.

Spectrum News 13 toured the new med school. The goal is to fill the need for doctors in Central Florida.

Mendez said Orlando has become a place he’s grown to enjoy.

“I really want to apply because I’d love to stay in the area,” said Mendez.

One thing that motivates Mendez to continue his years-long path to become a cardiologist is playing the guitar.

He says having time to connect with himself is crucial, so when the day comes, he can connect with his patients.

“It helps me unwind emotionally and mentally,” said Mendez. “How amazing of an opportunity this is. Just having an interview is one huge step toward getting into med school. So having that opportunity really helps us a lot as students.”

Hasty said beside the new facility, there is ongoing construction to include student housing.

It will open up for the inaugural class of 97 medical students in August.

The medical school is funded by billionaire Dr. Kiran C. Patel. OCOM officials say he has no personal ties to Orlando except that he wanted to branch out of Tampa in areas of need.