Dr. Oz Stopped Seeing Patients Years Before Senate Run but Still Teaches at Columbia

·3 min read
Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Dr. Oz

Dr. Mehmet Oz stopped seeing patients years before his latest venture, a political campaign, but is still teaching at Columbia University.

As first spotted by HuffPost, his title at the Ivy League school has changed from vice chair of surgery to "professor emeritus of surgery" amid his burgeoning Senate campaign in Pennsylvania.

But the school says this switch was made years ago.

A spokesman for the university confirms to PEOPLE that "Dr. Oz became special lecturer and professor emeritus in 2018. The title change reflects the fact that he has not been seeing patients since then, however, he still teaches at Columbia."

Oz, 61, is also listed as a "Special Lecturer in the Department of Surgery" at Columbia.

The longtime TV host — and controversial wellness expert — in November officially announced that he was launching a Republican campaign for Senate in Pennsylvania. (Incumbent Pat Toomey, also a Republican, is retiring.)

A rep for Oz's campaign did not respond to PEOPLE's questions regarding the change in title.

RELATED: Oprah Winfrey Weighs in on Dr. Oz's Republican Senate Campaign in Pennsylvania: 'It's Up to the Residents'

In announcing his campaign, Oz drew heavily on his medical background, writing in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner that he wanted "to help fix the problems and to help us heal."

Writing that the COVID-19 pandemic had ultimately led him to enter the Pennsylvania Senate race, Oz believed that many of the more-than 750,000 American COVID deaths were "preventable."

He also echoed broader conservative sentiment about the flaws in policies to prevent infections.

"Dissenting opinions wrote leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated," he wrote. "Instead, the government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered. We were told to lock down quietly and let those in charge take care of the rest."

Dr. Oz show
Dr. Oz show

Sony Pictures Television The Dr. Oz Show / Season 11

Oz became a nationally-known name with The Dr. Oz Show, which launched in 2009 after he made a name for himself as a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

While it helped propel the cardiothoracic surgeon's television career, the show also proved controversial, and Oz has been accused of promoting unproven medical treatments and making false or misleading scientific claims in the years since it has been on the air. (In response to a New York Times article last year detailing some of the issues, his campaign said he went against the "established grain" but was focused on his patients. Oz himself has said he tries to reach the audience where they are and "empower "them.)

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Many of Oz's past claims have been called into questions by other doctors, such as in 2015, when a group of physicians sent a letter to New York's Columbia University demanding Oz's dismissal for promoting what they called "quack treatments."

Last month, Sony confirmed that The Dr. Oz Show would come to an end in January, amid the host's Senate run (according to the Federal Communications Commission, candidates running for office must receive equal airtime, which made his show a potential problem).

The show was replaced by his daughter Daphne Oz's show, The Good Dish.