A ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday marked the official opening of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus. The celebration of the new home for faculty, staff and the inaugural class of 30 students was also an opportunity to thank the medical school’s partners ̶ Med Center Health and Western Kentucky University ̶ and the community of Bowling Green.
The college encompasses 24,000-square-feet on the second floor of the newest building at Med Center Health which will also include offices for The Medical Center and a five-level, 832-space parking structure. Amenities of the second floor include a computer lab, two large classrooms, four multi-purpose, six small group rooms and eight simulation and standardized patient rooms.
“One of the critical barriers to improving the health and wellness of the people in the Commonwealth is the shortage of physicians serving in community settings across the state,” said UK Provost David Blackwell. “Today’s ceremony marks an important milestone in strategically addressing this need but it could not have been possible without our partners at Med Center Health and Western Kentucky University.”
The UK College of Medicine is at its capacity at the Lexington campus and although there is a deep applicant pool for medical students, the college couldn’t expand enrollment without the help of regional partners. In addition to the Bowling Green Campus that opened this fall, a Northern Kentucky Campus will open in Fall 2019.
“This new medical campus and these students help ensure our state will remain competitive as the landscape of health care changes,” said Dr. Robert DiPaola, Dean of the UK College of Medicine. “It signals a new beginning in training more physicians in Kentucky, for Kentucky, and the support we have received from Med Center Health and Western Kentucky University as well as this community has been extraordinary and we are truly grateful.”
The UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus is a fully functioning campus, utilizing the exact curriculum and assessments as UK’s Lexington campus. Faculty have UK College of Medicine appointments and teach in small groups, as well as provide simulation/standardized patient experiences.
“As someone who grew up in a rural part of Kentucky, I understand firsthand the need to provide quality medical care throughout our state,” said Associate Dean Dr. Todd Cheever. “The UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus is poised to address the physician shortage, especially in southcentral and Western Kentucky and I am proud of the students who have chosen to complete their medical education in Bowling Green and take this important step toward improving the health of our citizens.”
As part of the medical students’ education, clinical experiences occur at Med Center Health facilities, which span six hospitals, including its flagship hospital The Medical Center at Bowling Green, and more than 30 other entities.
“Med Center Health’s involvement in this project shows how serious we are about living up to our promise to care for people and improve the quality of life in the communities we serve,” said Connie Smith, President and CEO of Med Center Health. “The UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus is a giant leap forward for our health system. Being a teaching hospital brings an unprecedented level to delivering the best in evidence-based care to our patients. We are committed to training doctors in Kentucky, for Kentucky.”
Through the partnership, basic science and early didactic training is being taught in conjunction with faculty at WKU through both onsite classes and live-streaming of lectures in accordance with UK College of Medicine curricular protocols.
“This remarkable partnership between Med Center Health and our two universities represents the very best of what higher education institutions can do to elevate the communities we serve when we work together,” said Timothy C. Caboni, President of Western Kentucky University. “We are excited for the opportunity that many of our students will have to move seamlessly into medical school right here in our community and for the many ways that WKU faculty will be engaged.”
For students, the program in Bowling Green offers the benefit of scholarships, smaller class sizes and the opportunity to live, work and learn in an up-and-coming Kentucky community.
“Being a part of the inaugural class at the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus is truly a once in a lifetime experience,” said Caitlyn Galloway, a Bowling Green native and also a WKU graduate. “Every single student in our 30-student class and all of the administrative staff are part of a new beginning for both the school and the community. We have the chance here to create something that is good not just for the city of Bowling Green, but also for the entire state of Kentucky.”