EVANSVILLE, Ind. — As planning progresses on creating a regional academic health science education and research campus in southern Indiana, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville has announced that a unified delegation of state legislators was successful in securing $2 million in planning funds for the project in the 2013-15 biennium budget.
In 2012, the IU School of Medicine-Evansville initiated a study process with four other sponsor organizations: Deaconess Health System, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, and Owensboro Health. A community steering committee was formed with over 30 regional leaders in academic and clinical medicine, government and industry.
In light of the IU School of Medicine-Evansville’s expansion to a full four-year program, the goal of the study was to determine regional medical educational needs and identify collaborative opportunities that would enhance existing programs as well as explore new options for additional programs such as expanded residency programs for the region.
With the IU School of Medicine-Evansville serving as the anchor institution of the future academic campus, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said, “As the state’s only medical school, the IU School of Medicine has a unique and enormous responsibility to provide a first-rate medical education to students across Indiana, many of whom will eventually remain in Indiana as physicians. The legislature’s funding commitment to assist with planning for an expanded IU School of Medicine campus in Evansville is a clear and welcome sign of support for IU’s aggressive efforts to enhance medical education opportunities in Indiana to meet the current and expected future shortfall of physicians in the state, and will certainly strengthen the long-term health and economic prosperity of southwestern Indiana.”
“We thank the members of the Indiana General Assembly for their support of this important project to expand our medical education program in Evansville and strengthen the health science sector in the region,” said D. Craig Brater, M.D., dean of the IU School of Medicine and IU vice president for university clinical affairs. “This initiative is critical to our efforts to train new physicians to meet the medical needs of Evansville and surrounding communities.”
Conducted by nationally recognized consulting firm Tripp Umbach, phase one of the study concluded in early 2013 with a recommendation to proceed with further study of specific programming needs and determination of site, size and funding sources. Phase two study participants include the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville, University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, Ivy Tech Southwest, Deaconess Medical System, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Owensboro Health and the Evansville Regional Business Committee.
Interdisciplinary learning in medical education in a co-located campus will enable students in various health programs from the University of Southern Indiana, the University of Evansville and Ivy Tech Southwest to experience clinical learning in a team-based environment. Local attorney and member of the Board of Trustees at Indiana University Pat Shoulders said, “We are also looking forward to working not only with the community and mayor, but also to work with our education partners to develop a plan that serves not only community development needs and medical education needs, but also enhancing higher education opportunities in southwest Indiana and the region.”
As evidenced in other comparable-size communities across the country such as Grand Rapids, Mich., Spokane, Wash., and Scranton, Pa., the expansion of the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville in partnership with the academic health science education and research campus is expected to increase the number of high-quality practitioners who live and practice in the region, spur economic development and infuse the local economy with revenue generated from the venture.
Shoulders continued to express his gratitude regarding local legislative leaders’ efforts to secure planning funds. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees at Indiana University, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the state legislature’s commitment to IU and the Evansville region. In particular, Representative Suzanne Crouch and the entire Evansville-area delegation were extremely supportive of this important initiative and worked hard to secure funding.”
The individual working groups will make recommendations to the project steering committee by September 2013 outlining specific programs, partnerships and a location for the new regional academic health science education campus. The completion date for the project is late 2016.