Kansas University’s plans to open four-year medical school programs in Wichita and Salina has the potential to be a tremendous boost to the state’s medical community.
After receiving a favorable review from the accrediting authority for medical school programs, KU announced last week it plans to accept its first class of students in Wichita and Salina next fall. The expansion of the Wichita program will contribute an estimated $30 million to that city’s economy and the Salina program reflects a cooperative effort that will allow the KU program to be housed primarily in space provided by the Salina Regional Health Center. The hope is that the new programs will attract students who are willing to consider practicing in rural areas after graduation.
KU has had a medical school campus in Wichita for 35 years, but it was just a two-year clinical program that took students who had spent their first two years at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. The Kansas City campus also sent four “rural track” students to Salina each year for clinical training. Interactive television and web-based systems will link Salina students to lecturers and classmates in Wichita and Kansas City.
Officials are particularly proud of the partnership with Salina and say it could provide an important model for other states seeking to attract more doctors to rural areas.
“The whole mission of the Salina campus,” said Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, the oncologist who will direct KU’s Salina program, “is to train physicians in non-metropolitan areas of the state and show these young medical students that life can be good and practice can be challenging outside of the big city.”
The Salina and Wichita programs not only will be looking for rural converts, but are likely to be an attractive option for students who grew up in smaller rural communities and already appreciate what they have to offer.
The KU medical school is one of the best examples of higher education serving important needs of the state. According to university officials about half of the doctors currently practicing in Kansas received their medical education at KU. That a direct contribution to the quality of life and health in Kansas. It’s great to see KU expanding its programs and reach across the state in a way that will benefit the entire state.