Nebraska-based Creighton University announced Tuesday that it will open a four-year medical school in Arizona as part of a $100 million expansion into midtown Phoenix.
Officials with the Jesuit university say that the soon-to-be-built Phoenix health sciences campus will train not only doctors but other future health professionals, including nurses and physician assistants.
The new medical campus will be on the old Park Central Mall property on the northwest corner of North Central Avenue and West Catalina Drive, across from the Bank of America building.
The medical school will be a branch of Creighton University in Omaha and for at least the near future will not be a separately accredited medical school, officials said.
In addition to its four-year medical school program, Creighton's campus will also include a nursing school, occupational and physical therapy schools, a pharmacy school, physician assistant school and emergency medical services program, officials said.
"I want Phoenix to be a destination for world-class medical education, research,health care and solutions and our growing partnership with Creighton University is going to help us get there," Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams said in a written statement.
Gov. Doug Ducey and Chris Camacho, Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO, also released statements of support.
"As one of the most innovative medical schools, graduates of their health sciences programs will continue to feed the rapidly growing health care sector," Camacho said.
The first class at Creighton's four-year Phoenix medical school is expected to start in August 2021 with 85 students.
During the first few years of operation that class size is expected to eventually increase to 100 students, Creighton spokesman Jim Berscheidt said.
Medical schools in Phoenix
Creighton will be the third institution to offer a four-year MD, also called allopathic medical school program, in the Phoenix area.
The Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic School of Medicine has a campus in Scottsdale that expects to graduate its first class of 50 new allopathic physicians in 2021.
The University of Arizona has two, separately accredited allopathic medical schools. The UA College of Medicine Tucson, which is the state's oldest medical school, had 114 new physician graduates this year and the UA College ofMedicine Phoenix had 81.
The addition of Creighton's medical school campus is much-needed in Arizona, which has a low ratio of physicians per population and a high need for more new doctors, said Dr. Guy Reed, dean of the UA College of Medicine Phoenix.
"We're also relatively low still in the number of medical students per capita," he said. "We didn't have a medical school until about 50 years ago. In Massachusetts, they've had one for 200 or more years. Even though we did have a medical school, it was comparatively small in the number of students it was producing."
Two other schools — Illinois-based Midwestern and Missouri-based A.T. Still — train future physicians in doctor of osteopathy programs in the Phoenix area. There were 253 new osteopathic physician graduates from Midwestern University in Glendale this year, and 105 from A.T. Still's School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, officials at those schools said.
The UA College of Medicine Phoenix has plans to expand its class size from 80 to 120, but even then, Reed said there will not be too many new physician graduates in Arizona. The state's population is growing and there's a large segment of older people who need more health care, he said.
"This last year we had 6,800 applications for our 80 positions," Reed said of the UA College of Medicine Phoenix. "There's a huge pipeline of students out there. There are very talented students available who want to go into the profession."
Reed said all of his experiences with Creighton have been extremely positive.
"Both schools exist to serve the community, so we're delighted," he said of the announcement.
Creighton's Phoenix connection
Creighton is not new to Arizona. For more than a decade the school has had a program that sends medical students to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix for rotations. In 2009, Creighton and St. Joseph's established a campus for third and fourth year students at St. Joseph's.
In January, Creighton increased its Phoenix presence when it launched a bachelor of science in nursing program here. In June, it assumed sponsorship of graduate medical education training programs at St. Joseph's and the Maricopa Integrated Health System in conjunction with District Medical Group.
"Creighton University has strong connections to the Arizona medical community, and we look forward to expanding our impact by educating many more exceptionally qualified health care professionals to serve the community moving forward," Creighton University president the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson said in a written statement.