by Max Brantley
Rep. Steve Harrelson's Under the Dome blog is polling the question, in essence, of whether Arkansas needs a second med school. (Pictured is UAMS-LR.) He is onto something here that you've only begun to hear about. That "satellite" campus in Northwest Arkansas is nothing but the first step toward a full-fledged med school in NWA. Everybody knows it. Is it a good idea? Writes Harrelson:
I'm a firm believer that we need more highly qualified doctors in the state in order to reach our goal of increasing the quality of health care -- especially in rural Arkansas. The question then turns on whether we can educate those additional future physicians at the school we already have. Earlier this year, the Legislature appropriated $1.9 million of the state's budget surplus for the project. Now we're told that the project will cost between $5 million and $8 million annually. Some legislators think that this is something we can't afford, and even if we could, we should spend the money on professional schools Arkansas doesn't currently have, such as a school of dentistry or veterinary medicine. What do you think?