Dr. Peter Bell Earns Distinguished Service Award from AOA, Works Toward Forming College of Osteopathic Medicine at BHSU

Joseph Giaimo, DO, 125th President of the AOA, presents the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Bell.

Vice Provost and Dean of Medical Education Peter Alan Bell, DO, MBA, HPF, FACOEP-Dist, FACEP, joined Baptist Health Sciences University in August 2021 to assist the university with gaining accreditation for a College of Osteopathic Medicine.

On July 16, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), honored Dr. Bell with the 2022 Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the osteopathic medical profession through leadership, excellence, achievement and dedication.

Dr. Bell said the award was unexpected, and he’s humbled and “extremely appreciative.” He traveled to Chicago to accept the award and even worked on recruiting while there. Dr. Bell is getting affiliation agreements in place and recruiting for open leadership and faculty positions. Two senior associate dean positions have been filled.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Bell has joined our team and that he has been awarded the much-deserved AOA Distinguished Service Award,” said Dr. Betty Sue McGarvey, president of Baptist Health Sciences University. “With Dr. Bell’s leadership and his team, we look forward to the next steps in the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine accreditation process.”

The accreditation process for a medical school is especially challenging, but Dr. Bell is no stranger to the task. He was a regional dean for the Ohio University, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and a professor of family and emergency medicine for almost 23 years. In 2017, he joined Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, as the dean. During his tenure, he was instrumental in helping the school get to the next stage of accreditation of its medical school and graduate its first class in 2018. He worked with Liberty University until its accreditation process was complete in 2020. Shortly after that success, he agreed to consult with Baptist to assist in its accreditation process and officially joined the Baptist family and relocated to Memphis soon afterward.

Earlier this year, Baptist announced its intent to seek candidacy status through the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). The proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine at BHSU has submitted its candidate application and hopes to achieve candidate status next month. The next step would be to submit a pre-accreditation application. If that application is approved, the school will welcome its first class of medical students in August 2024. The proposed medical school will be located on the BHSU campus. To make room for the new school, the university is undergoing a renovation and construction project that should be complete by the end of next year.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine will offer the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and focus on training primary care doctors for under-served urban and rural areas. Recruitment for medical students will focus heavily on a three-hour radius of Memphis. With ample opportunities in the Baptist system for residency training after graduation, there’s a strong likelihood that many of the doctors will chose to stay and provide care for people in the Mid-South, noted Dr. Bell.

“I’m confident we’re going to get there, and there are a lot of good reasons we want to do this. We’re helping build a pipeline to take care of people in the Mid-South,” said Dr. Bell.

Osteopathic medicine focuses on comprehensive holistic wellness and prevention. “It’s not just about fixing the body but making sure those things causing internal chaos affecting your normal body functions are addressed,” said Dr. Bell.

Baptist Memorial Health Care employs 141 osteopathic physicians working in many different areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, ophthalmology and radiology.

Dr. Bell earned his DO degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and his Executive MBA from Ohio University College of Business. Before joining Baptist, he worked in the Department of Emergency Medicine at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital and Grant Medical and Trauma Center in Columbus, Ohio.