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NSU’s Medical School Helps Launch Correctional Medicine Specialty

The College of Osteopathic Medicine establishes America’s first medical specialty in correctional medicine

FT. LAUDERDALE-DAVIE Fla. — Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM) received approval for a new medical specialty—correctional medicine—that was developed at the college in collaboration with the Florida Department of Corrections.

File photo

NSU-COM became the first medical school in the country to gain such recognition when the standards developed by the college for this distinct specialty were approved by the American Osteopathic Association. The College of Osteopathic Medicine now has the first accredited and approved correctional medicine fellowship program in the country.

David Thomas, M.D., J.D., professor and chair of the college’s Department of Surgery and Division of Correctional Medicine, described the innovation as “very, very rare. The last new specialty I can remember was the creation of emergency medicine in 1976.”

In the U.S., there are an estimated 7.1 million men and women under adult correctional supervision, and more than 1.5 million are cared for by physicians who work full time in this challenging environment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The new correctional medicine specialty represents a milestone in medical treatment.

NSU-COM established a two-year postgraduate correctional medicine fellowship in 2010 that offers broad interdisciplinary experience in oncology, radiation therapy, orthopedic surgery, and hospice care and leads to both board certification and a Master of Public Health degree. The program includes inpatient/outpatient supervised clinical experience in acute and chronic settings in jails/prisons, medicolegal experiences and responsibilities, quality management and review, and mortality review and control.

“Correctional healthcare was looked upon for many years as a last refuge of barely competent practitioners,” Thomas said. “It is not. It is a complex, intricate field where you are taking care of people, many of whom are very ill, because they have not accessed care outside of the correctional environment — ever. It takes sophisticated doctors with significant training to handle both the illnesses and the unique correctional environment. This is the first step in bringing recognition to the care that correctional doctors provide.”


About NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM):  The mission of the College of Osteopathic Medicine is to provide learner-centered education, both nationally and internationally, for osteopathic medical students, postgraduate trainees, and other professionals. Through its interprofessional programs, the college prepares competent and compassionate lifelong learners; supports research, scholarly activity, and community service; and advocates for the health and welfare of diverse populations, including the medically underserved. NSU-COM.

About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 300 beautiful acres in Davie, Florida, Nova Southeastern University is a dynamic fully accredited research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels.  NSU is the eighth largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally with more than 28,000 students. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification.

Media Contact:
Ken Ma, MBA, NSU Office of Public Affairs
954-262-5408 (office), 954-621-7961 (cell),