The Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, located at 925 City Central Ave., Conroe, will increase its class size from 112 students to 150 for the 2022-23 school year, according to Dr. Shannon Ramsey Jimenez, interim dean and associate professor of family medicine.

Jimenez said in an interview the increased class size comes with a national increase in medical school applications, partially due to the pandemic. Its number of applications has risen from fewer than 3,000 applications in 2020 to around 6,800 applications for 2022-23.

SHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine opened in August 2020 and was the first medical school in Montgomery County. The college opened to help address the shortage of primary care physicians in Texas, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Osteopathic medicine provides the benefits of modern medicine as well as hands-on diagnosis and treatment, according to Emily Schulze, SHSU associate director of marketing and communications.

Danielle Scheiner, executive director of the Conroe Economic Development Council, said students tend to practice near their school.

“Most students when they graduate from their programs, they tend to practice either in the community where they were assigned, or they will maybe practice close by. So I think if they’re not practicing in Conroe, I think they will be practicing in nearby rural areas, which was the whole point of the program—to help bring more doctors into underserved areas and in this immediate region,” Scheiner said in an interview.

The college’s first class—the class of 2024—will begin their clerkships in the fall, according to Jimenez, and will train all over the state.

“[The students’] clerkships are the last two years of medical school. They do four-week blocks in different specialties like family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and all that,” Jimenez said.

In addition, the school plans to construct another building on the Conroe campus to expand the health professions college, although the timeline for construction is not known yet, Jimenez said. The college will add physical therapy and is in the process of discussing adding respiratory therapy, lab science and physician assistant programs as well, according to Jimenez.