The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved Sam Houston State University’s doctorate in osteopathic medicine on Aug. 14, bringing the proposed college one step closer to fruition.

SHSU has been working on the proposed college, which hopes to meet the needs of the medically underserved East Texas region, since 2015. Upon approval, the college would be located in Conroe’s Grand Central Park.

“After approximately four years of researching analyzing and planning, this endorsement represents a major leap forward in helping to train doctors who will predominately practice in rural, underserved areas,” SHSU President Dana Hoyt said in a statement. “Sam Houston is one of the best-suited universities to address our state’s rural healthcare crisis.”

The proposed college will now go before the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation to be evaluated for the next step in the accreditation process.

According to SHSU, the proposed college will collaborate with hospitals in rural East Texas counties to establish residency-training programs and already has 20 confirmed affiliation agreements with 26 hospitals.

“I am humbled at the outpouring of support received from numerous state legislators, community leaders, medical associations, healthcare providers and thousands of Texans,” Hoyt said. “Their confidence in our ability to deliver on our mission is inspiring.”

Officials said the proposal requires no new state funding and will bring approximately $68 million-$93 million annually in new federal funds to Texas.

SHSU is part of The Texas State University System.

“Congratulations to Sam Houston State University President Dana Hoyt and her team for securing the Coordinating Board’s support for the university’s proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine,” TSUS Chancellor Brian McCall said in a statement. “This is an important milestone in the history of SHSU, and a significant step forward in addressing the shortage of primary care physicians in Texas.”

For more information about the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine and SHSU, click here.