by Max Brantley
UAMS NEWS RELEASE
Preparations for medical and pharmacy students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) satellite campus in Fayetteville received a boost today with a $1 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.
The funds from the Bentonville-based retailer will be used to renovate the first floor of the former Washington Regional Medical Center hospital building into conference space and classrooms as well as a clinical skills training center for the UAMS Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.
The first group of students to attend UAMS-Northwest, six third-year medical students, will begin clinical rotations at the satellite campus in July. In the past year, 17 senior pharmacy students completed the majority of their clinical rotations at pharmacies in the region with more expected in the region during the 2009-2010 academic year.
Eventual enrollment at the satellite campus is expected to be between 250-300 with students in medical, pharmacy, nursing and allied health programs, along with resident physicians who will be serving residencies at area hospitals and clinics.
“Walmart’s support of the UAMS satellite campus creates a lasting legacy in Arkansas by improving health care access,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “The UAMS-Northwest campus will result in additional health care professionals in northwest Arkansas and statewide. This will lead to improved access to patient care in area clinics and hospitals and the ability of educational institutions to deliver on the mission of education and community outreach.”
The campus also will be the new home for the UAMS Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Northwest, which provides medical care to patients in its family medical clinic and continuing education programs to health care professionals from across the region.
The AHEC, which includes family medicine resident physicians and allied health programs in radiologic technology and sonography, is expected to move to the satellite campus by the end of 2009.
“We are proud to support the UAMS satellite campus toward its goal of producing more health care professionals, which will improve the quality of life for this region and all of Arkansas,” said Matt Cockrell, senior director of the Walmart Foundation.
Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest Arkansas Region said, “The satellite campus will allow us to increase our enrollment in a way not possible on our Little Rock campus.
“For medical education, we need not just conference rooms but hospitals, medical clinics and pharmacies willing to host our students for real-world experience,” Kohler said. “The support we have received from physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals in northwest Arkansas has been extremely helpful. Their mentoring of our students will complement the clinical family practice, pediatric, geriatric and psychiatric clinics and centers UAMS already operates in this part of the state.”
The UAMS College of Nursing will collaborate with the University of Arkansas Department of Nursing to educate more advanced degree nurses to provide health care or serve as faculty members for schools of nursing around the state.
Renovations of the former hospital building began earlier this year. The work is focused on creating classrooms, offices, teaching labs and other resources needed to support the satellite campus.
In 2008, more than $3 million was pledged toward the UAMS expansion. In October, the Care Foundation Inc. of Springdale gave $500,000 toward development of the satellite campus. In November, a trio of Arkansas philanthropists gave a total of $1.5 million toward the effort: $500,000 each from Don Tyson and the Tyson Family Foundation, the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, and Johnelle Hunt. That gift was announced two days after a $300,000 gift to the project from the Walton Family Foundation.
There also was a $100,000 gift in August 2008 from the Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation, a group whose mission is encouraging philanthropy across the region.
In addition to the private support, the UAMS satellite campus is expected to receive $3 million toward operating funds from a tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products that took effect March 1.