MERIDIAN - Classes at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine are set to begin in August, with more than 160 students.

The privately funded, for-profit institution is Idaho's first medical school. Its mission is not only to help Idahoans aspiring to work in the medical field, but also to help alleviate a doctor shortage in the Gem State.

"Every single inch of this facility was designed to train a very caring and competent physician of the future," said Dr. Robert Hasty, founding dean of ICOM.

The school, located at 1401 E. Central Drive in Meridian, has 94,000 square feet of space, and cost $34 million to build. It includes high-tech features for state-of-the-art training -- from rooms simulating an emergency department and doctor's offices to lecture halls and study areas. Outside the building is a park where students can get some fresh air -- and a WiFi connection.

"To actually be standing here in what is truly going to be a remarkable facility for our medical students and producing medical students of the future, I just have to pinch myself sometimes," Hasty said.

ICOM students will spend their first two years of school in pre-clinical education, heavy on classroom instruction and simulations.

Third- and fourth-year students will be doing their clinicals throughout the Treasure Valley.

ICOM's first class is expected to graduate in 2022.

"They'll be in residency programs, which last anywhere from three to seven years. Hopefully, a lot of them will choose to stay here in the Gem State," Hasty said.

In addition to Idaho, ICOM is working to develop residency programs in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

While the first class is full, ICOM is currently accepting applications for its second class of students.

Everyone is invited to look around the school during a public ribbon cutting event, scheduled for September 5.