Walton medical school expands leadership team, announces accreditation milestone

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,799 views 

Sharon Bridges, from left, Will Jemison and David Roos.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in the U.S., has granted candidate status to the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine (AWSOM) in Bentonville.

It’s a critical step in the lengthy accreditation process, a requirement the school must have in hand when it graduates its inaugural class in 2029. The college hopes to be approved to recruit students by the summer of 2024 and welcome its first class in the fall of 2025.

AWSOM officials shared details of the accreditation milestone Wednesday (Oct. 25) in a news release. The college also announced three new hires:

  • Sharon Bridges; general counsel
  • Will Jemison; chief of staff
  • David Roos; assistant dean of student affairs

“With these new staff appointments and the update in our accreditation status, we are one step closer to training physicians of the future,” Dr. Sharmila Makhija, AWSOM founding dean and CEO, said in a statement. “These passionate and dedicated leaders will add to our already dynamic team by driving operational planning, ensuring regulatory compliance, and developing the student affairs department to help us build a thriving learning environment.”

According to the news release, Bridges has over 25 years of executive experience with legal, regulatory and business experience in law firms, national corporations and nonprofits. She was assistant general counsel at Tulane University Medical School and Tulane University Medical Center.

Before joining AWSOM this past summer, she served as the vice president and deputy general counsel of Baystate Health Inc. in Springfield, Mass., where she led daily operations of the legal department.

Jemison, Makhija’s chief of staff, started his new job this past summer. He was previously chief administrative officer for Resurrection Healthcare and Catholic Missions of the South in Montgomery, Ala. He also has experience as program director for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Miss.

Roos was previously senior director of enrollment management at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah.

First announced in March 2021, AWSOM is a standalone sister organization of Bentonville nonprofit Whole Health Institute, created in 2020 by Walmart Inc. heiress and philanthropist Alice Walton.

The 154,000 school is being built on approximately 20 acres east of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art along Northeast J Street, north of First Presbyterian Church.