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Chiropractic school proposed

Money to study the creation of a school at FSU, which would be Florida's first, is included in the budget plan.

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- In addition to gaining a new medical school, Florida State University could become home of the nation's first public school of chiropractic education.

Rep. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, helped put a $1-million planning grant for the school in the state's $50.9-billion budget slated for approval by legislators today.

The budget includes about $45-million in state funds for a new medical school slated to open in 2001.

The medical school won a spot in the budget with the support of House Speaker John Thrasher, an FSU graduate who got help from Gov. Jeb Bush and a number of legislators who graduated from FSU.

A chiropractor who owns Northeast Chiropractic Center in Pinellas County, Jones said the school would be a first for Florida. Now students who want to study chiropractic must go to private colleges out of state at a cost that averages about $117,000 for a four-year education.

The program likely would have its first students in the 2002-03 academic year.

The college would be housed in the College of Human Sciences, entirely separate from the new medical school. But chiropractic students would need the same basic science courses and much of the same library material used by medical students.

"I'm excited about it," Jones said Thursday. "Students shouldn't have to leave the state to pursue an occupation."

The Florida Chiropractic Association says that 600 to 900 students leave Florida each year to seek a chiropractic education. They attend one of 17 private colleges in the United States, or overseas institutions.

"We felt the time was here to get a chiropractic college in Florida," Jones added.

A Florida school could also help increase the number of minority chiropractors in the state, Jones said. Of 6,000 licensed chiropractors in the state, only 25 are black, and 19 are Hispanic.

The FSU study included in the budget would have to be completed by the end of the year. Legislators have asked FSU to include a plan for increasing minority representation and serving low-income families by keeping costs below those charged by private colleges.

If the state decides to create the FSU school, it would be a relatively small college with enrollment capped at about 500 students, all of whom would have to have a bachelor's degree to seek admission.

The school probably would also inherit the Lincoln Chiropractic Chair in Biomechanics, a $1-million gift donated by Jones' alma mater in Washington, D.C.

FSU Provost Larry Abele said he and other university officials plan to meet next week with Jones and representatives of MGT Management Inc., the company that will do the study for FSU.

"I have truly become a believer in finding ways to provide access to health care for Florida citizens," Abele said.

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