"I'm committed to health transformation," Alice Walton, founder of the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine (AWSOM), told those gathered at the March 30 groundbreaking for the school in Bentonville. "I'm so excited about bringing art, nature, architecture, health and wellness and innovation together on one campus ... I'm particularly excited to explore that whole connection between art and healing."
Walton wants the school to help make Northwest Arkansas a destination for "world-class health and well-being. In order to improve lives, we need lower cost, better health and support for healthcare givers. Patients need to be activated to be stewards of their own health. We can all agree that we're spending too much on healthcare and we can all agree that every year the outcomes become worse. The system is broken and we have to fix it. Arkansas is (ranked) 48th out of 50th and we will change it."
"We have quality providers that are doing a great job but we need a new approach -- one that is proactive and connects patients' mental, physical, social and emotional health."
Sharmila Makhija, founding dean and CEO, said, "Our medical school will be a place of innovation and a bridge to the future within an environment of compassionate and inclusive medical education for our students."
AWSOM will offer a 4-year medical degree program that builds upon a traditional medical school curriculum to include the humanities and the arts, in order for our students to better understand the social determinants of health, to learn resiliency and ultimately provide the quality care our diverse community deserves and needs."
AWSOM will open and welcome its inaugural class in 2025, pending programmatic and institutional, accreditation, according to a news release. "Taught by leading medical practitioners and scientific minds, the first-of-its-kind medical school will help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century."
Also providing remarks were Walter Harris, President, Health Care Transformation; Wesley Walls, AIA, principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox; and Simon David, Studio OSD founding Principal, Studio OSD.
Collaborators with the school on the project are:
Architect: Polk Stanley Wilcox
Landscape Architect: OSD
General Contractor: Crossland
Sustainability Consultant: SOM
Civil Engineering: McClelland Consulting Engineers
MEPF & LOW Voltage Engineer: Henderson Engineers
Structural & Building Envelope Engineer: Martin / Martin Consulting Engineers
Signage Consultant: Two Twelve
Food Service Consultant: JME Hospitality
Giving opened Friday for the sixth annual NWA Gives giving event set for Thursday, April 6.
"Northwest Arkansas is becoming the most generous place on earth," organizers say. "Join us for 12 hours of epic giving on April 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and donate to one of the participating local nonprofits."
"In the five years since NWA Gives was created, 300 local nonprofit organizations have raised close to $2.8 million to support their vital community services."
Find nonprofit organizations to support at NWAGives.org.
For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.
Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]
At a Glance - Groundbreaking
Who: Alice L. Walton School of Medicine (AWSOM)
What: School leaders welcomed guests as they broke ground for the "first-of-its-kind" medical school.
When: March 30
Where: J Street in Bentonville
Who: NWA Gives
What: Area nonprofit organizations will benefit for the annual day of online giving.
When: Thursday April 6