Walmart Foundation Gives $750,000 To NWA Residency Program

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The Walmart Foundation gave $750,000 to support the Northwest Arkansas Community Internal Medicine Residency Program, a partnership of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Mercy Health System Northwest Arkansas and Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.

The partners announced the gift at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers on Thursday.

“The Walmart Foundation aims to enhance the lives of families in Northwest Arkansas and understands the important of job training and education when it comes to recruiting and retaining top medical talent,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “We are very proud to support this partnership and help advance great physicians seeking a meaningful career in health care.”

On June 30, the first eight resident physicians started in the program that’s based at UAMS’ Northwest Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Five of the physicians are serving their residencies at Mercy Health System Northwest Arkansas while the other three are at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks. They all will practice at both hospitals and at the Residency Continuity Clinic at the university.

The Walmart grant will cover the residency program’s first two years of operating costs, including residents’ salaries.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Walmart Foundation to bring more talented physicians to train — and, hopefully, stay — in Northwest Arkansas,” said program director Thomas K. Schulz, who’s an associate professor at UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.

The program, which received accreditation in September, is expected to grow over the next two years, with a goal of 24 residents by 2018.

Some of the specialties of training will include critical care medicine, cardiology, emergency medicine, geriatric medicine, gastroenterology, oncology and pulmonary disease.