Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Chiropractic school may cost state $84 million

January 12, 2001

Chiropractic school may cost state $84 million

By Melanie Yeager

A proposed new chiropractic school at Florida State University could cost the state $83.9 million in construction costs over the next six years.

"If the Legislature would like us to do a chiropractic college, we will certainly do it," said FSU Provost Larry Abele on Thursday. "But we don't want to do it on the cheap. We'd like a quality program."

The costs are outlined in a new report, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, that was delivered to legislative leaders on Wednesday. It was crafted by MGT of America, a local consulting firm.

Whether the Legislature will give FSU money this year to move forward with plans for the school remains to be seen. The school's main legislative supporter, Dennis Jones, a Republican and chiropractor from Seminole, has finished his time in the state House. And lawmakers have only half as much new money to spend in the upcoming legislative session compared to last year.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush said he has not yet reviewed the study. Representatives for House and Senate leaders couldn't be reached for comment late Thursday.

Jones pushed lawmakers to set aside money for the study, which cost $440,775, during his final legislative session last spring. An unpaid consultant on the study, Jones has said the time has come for a public chiropractic school. The nation's 16 accredited schools - all located outside Florida - are private.

The bulk of the construction money - $59.6 million - would pay for a new academic building either in Tallahassee or at FSU's Panama City campus.

Another $10.4 million would be used to build two outpatient clinics - one near the school and the other in a yet-to-be-determined metropolitan area - where students would gain hands-on experience.

The remaining $13.9 million would help FSU purchase land and pay for expenses such as fees, permits, utility hookups, furniture and equipment.

Once the school reaches full capacity in nine years, it will cost $8.1 million a year to run, according to the study. By then, it would enroll 500 students and employ 56 faculty members.

FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte and Abele are leaning toward placing the new school in Panama City, where the university owns land that could be used. The main campus already is cramped.

"It would really be a shot in the arm educationally for that community," Abele said of Panama City. That campus, which traditionally serves night students, is working to bolster its academic programs and add more day classes.

Plans for a chiropractic school come as FSU continues efforts to bring its new medical school online. The university was given $50.8 million in the last session to begin the med school.

Landing legislative money for the med school took three years. It will enroll its first class in May. FSU plans to build a new biology building on the corner of Stadium Drive and Call Street to house the school, which eventually will graduate 120 students each year.

Although chiropractic students must take many of the same science courses that doctors do, D'Alemberte cautioned lawmakers against mixing the two schools' plans in the study's cover letter to legislative leaders.

"The complications of an 'integrated' approach far outweigh the advantages, and there is the real risk that some of the special focus that must be placed on both the new medical school and an entirely new chiropractic school would be lost," D'Alemberte said.

Abele said although practices by physicians and chiropractors may merge in the next 25 years, they are still contrasting professions. Chiropractors deal more in manipulation of the body and don't prescribe drugs.

"I think it would create accreditation difficulties," he said.

FSU already has submitted information to medical school accreditation officials. It expects a visit from an accreditation team later this year.