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Multi-institutional medical campus will redefine training for health care professionals

Evansville Medical Education Center Groundbreaking

Dignitaries take part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for a multidisciplinary academic medical education and research center on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in downtown Evansville. The project, pending approval by the State of Indiana, will be a collaboration between the City of Evansville, Indiana University, the University of Evansville, and the University of Southern Indiana.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday, Oct. 23, for the new Multi-Institutional Academic Health Science Education and Research Campus in downtown Evansville. The launch of a new model of medical education training for future physicians, dentists and health professionals in Indiana will serve as the new home for the Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville campus. 

The interprofessional medical education and research center will offer the most advanced technologies to educate and train future generations of physicians, dentists, nurses, health science researchers and other health care providers and is a direct result of a unique and well-coordinated collaboration among four regional hospitals and three institutions of higher education. The partners are Deaconess Health System, Evansville, Ind.; Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Ind.; Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, Jasper, Ind.; St. Mary’s Health System, Evansville, Ind.; Indiana University; University of Evansville; and University of Southern Indiana.

Turning the first shovels of dirt on the historic construction project were Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke; IU President Michael A. McRobbie; USI President Linda L. M. Bennett; IU School of Medicine-Evansville Director Steven G. Becker, M.D.; IU Trustee Patrick Shoulders; and Mary Kessler, dean of the UE College of Education and Health Sciences, representing UE President Thomas Kazee.

The medical education research center will open for the 2017-18 academic school year. The signature element of the campus will be a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art simulation center where advanced technologies will be tested and used in combination with training, research and potential product development. The IU School of Dentistry is pursuing an exciting opportunity to bring an oral health component to the project through an on-site dental residency program and rotations for dental students currently based in Indianapolis.

“This new medical campus would not be possible without our partners coming together to create a shared vision and then working diligently in unison toward a common goal to provide the highest level of training for future generations of health professionals in a collaborative educational environment with the latest technologies in medicine, while simultaneously addressing the growing shortage of physicians,” said Mayor Winnecke. “This new model of medical education will transform the delivery of health care in the tri-state region. More importantly, it will result in more physicians being trained and retained in Indiana.”

The IU School of Medicine-Evansville will move its four-year medical education program from its current location at the University of Southern Indiana to the new campus. In addition, the IU School of Dentistry will offer training for dental residents and dental students by operating a public clinic at the new Evansville campus.

“This tremendous expansion of our medical education facilities in Evansville is consistent with Indiana University’s leadership in medical and health sciences in Indiana for over a century and stands as a testament to the university’s commitment to southwest Indiana,” said Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie. “The new medical education center will contribute greatly to our efforts, and those of our institutional partners, to meet the growing demand for health care providers in this region and to the ongoing economic development of downtown Evansville, of which we are pleased to be a part.”

The concept for an academic and research campus initiated from a proposal by Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville to the Evansville Regional Business Committee in 2011 to expand medical education in the Evansville region. The proposal identified a critical shortage of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners as well as aging demographics that will intensify the physician shortage.

“The various health science programs offered by the participating schools will redefine the future of health care not just for our region, but for the entire state of Indiana and the nation,” said Dr. Steven Becker, director of the IU School of Medicine-Evansville. “The medical campus will tap the knowledge and experience of local physicians, who are immensely skilled and widely respected in their professions, to provide most of the clinical training. We know that most doctors who are trained here will stay here, creating a pipeline of future health professionals for our region.”

Indiana lawmakers have approved $25.2 million for the campus, and the City of Evansville has approved a total financial package of $52 million. The annual estimated economic impact of the medical school project is projected to exceed $350 million within 10 years, by 2025.