FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced today (Jan. 17) plans to construct an 8,000-square-foot Student Clinical Education Center at its Fayetteville facility. The project is made possible thanks to a $1.5 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.
“The Walker Family have shown time and time again is support for UAMS and efforts to improve health in Arkansas,” UAMS Chancellor Dr. Dan Rahn said during a Tuesday morning (Jan. 17) press conference.
The center will be located on the first floor of the UAMS campus at the intersection of North Street and College Avenue in Fayetteville. Construction is expected to begin within the next month with completion slated for early 2013, in time for the next class of future doctors, pharmacists and nurses.
The Northwest campus opened in 2009 and had a fall enrollment of 135 students in 2011. The school is expected to grow its enrollment to 250 or students pursing advanced degrees in the medical sciences.
Christina Miller a fourth year medical student at the UAMS in Fayetteville, said the clinical education center will be a huge asset for students. The center will allow students to see work closely with volunteers in mock situations to properly diagnose simulated illnesses. Students in all phases of their study will benefit from the hands-on interaction with the volunteers in a true clinical setting.
“Right now we have to travel to Little Rock to get this training, it will great to have it here on the Fayetteville campus,” Miller said.
UAMS Vice Chancellor Peter Kohler, M.D., said there is no substitute for clinical experience, as it’s a vital ingredient in medical education. He said the tremendous gift will allow instructors to better prepare the students without the travel.
The Walker family’s support of UAMS totals more $48 million in gifts over the past three decades.
Kohler said the Walker family understands the importance educating future health care professionals facing a critical workforce shortage in the coming years as the nation ages.
Debbie Walker, executive director for the foundation, said it was the family’s pleasure to help UAMS expand its programs. She said the Northwest campus site is old but has been repurposed and is getting some much needed “TLC.” The campus is housed in the former Washington Region Hospital building.
“UAMS could not be the statewide institution it is today without the generosity and support of the Walker family,” Rahn said.
Since the early 1980s Willard and Pat Walker, through their charitable foundation have given more $48 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
These efforts have supported the building infrastructure at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the UAMS Jones Eye Institute, the Walker Family Clinic in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute, the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Carl L. Nelson M.D. Orthopedic Center.
The late Willard Walker was hired by Sam Walton as a store manager in Walmart’s early history. He went on to help Walton build a retail empire. The Walker family continues to share their good fortune with many charitable organizations in Arkansas.