Organizers say institute will train doctors to care for dignity of every human life
Plans to open a new Catholic medical school in Kansas are moving forward, one that leaders say will be the first U.S. institution fully committed to training doctors to adhere to church teachings about the dignity of every human life.
Located on the Benedictine College campus in Atchison, Kansas, the Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine is being developed at a time when other schools are losing medical students due to woke ideology and controversial medical practices.
Although the medical school is not open or accepting applications yet, Stephen Johnson, director of marketing and communications at Benedictine, told The College Fix that they already have received “a lot of interest from potential students.”
The medical school will be an independent, separately governed entity housed on Benedictine’s campus, Johnson told The Fix. First announced in 2022, the school is a project of Catholic Healthcare International and the college.
Dr. George Mychaskiw, an osteopathic physician, CHI board member, and proposed president of the new school, told The Fix last week in a phone interview that they are working on fundraising and accreditation.
“All things go well, given accommodation by the accreditors … we hope to open in the fall of 2027,” Mychaskiw said.
The U.S. already has several Catholic medical schools and three more are in development, but Saint Padre Pio Institute will be the first to operate under papal authority based on the apostolic doctrine of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” he said.
Written by Saint Pope John Paul II, the document describes “what a truly Catholic university should be … so obviously strongly pro-life, from conception until natural death. Strongly pro-family, strongly pro-biological identity,” Mychaskiw told The Fix.
Mychaskiw said they want all of the medical school’s administrators, board members, faculty and staff to agree to “a pledge of loyalty to Catholic principles.”
The school will not discriminate against non-Catholic students, but its proposed mission will require adherence to church teachings on medical care, he said.
Regarding curriculum, Mychaskiw told The Fix that “every student will not only have a rigorous grounding in medical science, but there’ll be a curriculum in Catholic bioethics and medical theology. We hope that the students will graduate with a medical degree and a master’s degree in bioethics and medical theology so they’ll be ‘thought leaders’ when they go out into their practice.”
Mychaskiw said they want to attend to students’ spiritual health as well, especially through the stress of medical school.
“We hope that these students in this faith-based environment will have a better experience of medical school … and we will have a spiritual direction program … to help them find and be grounded in their spirituality,” he said.
With a national physician shortage, organizers said the school will meet a growing need. Mychaskiw said Catholic healthcare facilities make up about a third of the nation’s healthcare, and many are located in poor and underserved areas of the country.
“So Catholic healthcare fills a need, but they need physicians that are also comfortable working within Catholic healthcare systems to fulfill their missions,” he said.
Ultimately, “the mission of the school is to evangelize the good news of Jesus Christ through the practice of physicians and healing the sick and suffering, but in a joyful way,” Mychaskiw said, in contrast to the “four years of hazing” at secular medical schools today.
Benedictine College President Stephen Minnis also expressed enthusiasm about the new medical school in an interview at Legatus last year.
“Creating a medical school that will train Catholic doctors committed to the Church’s teaching is going to transform health care and the culture as much as anything. It’s right within our mission, so we’re very excited about it,” Minnis said.