UAMS Gets $2M in Donations, Grants for Northwest Campus Programs

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on Thursday marked $2 million in donations and economic development grants to fund a physical therapy academic program, an internal medicine residency and other programs at its Fayetteville campus.

UAMS said about $500,000 came through the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District and the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District from surplus state funds allocated by the state Legislature.

Another $1.2 million came through private philanthropic support, including an anonymous donor who gave $1 million. Two more grants -- $77,500 in 2013 and $98,000 in 2012 -- came from the Blue & You Foundation. And there was a $240,200 grant from the Care Foundation.

UAMS said it will use the money for renovation and construction of facilities as well as program support.

UAMS opened its northwest Arkansas campus in 2009 in the former Washington Regional Medical Center on North College Avenue in Fayetteville.

Now the school is adding a physical therapy clinic to open late this year, welcoming its first 24 students in 2015. About 10,000 SF on the campus is being renovated for teaching and administrative space for the program, which is part of the UAMS College of Health Professions and is the first UAMS academic program to be housed solely on the Fayetteville campus.

"This physical therapy program further fulfills the vision we had for UAMS Northwest," said Lewis Epley of Fayetteville, a retired attorney who is on the UAMS Northwest Advisory Board and is a former chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

"Physical therapy treatment helped my recovery from polio as a teenager, so I cannot be more pleased to see this academic program come to fruition here," he said.

Dr. John Jefferson, the physical therapy program's first director, started work Jan. 1. He was previously an associate professor in the physical therapy department at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala.

UAMS is aiming for full enrollment of 72 students in 2018. At that time, it expects annual revenue from tuition and the faculty-run clinic to cover operational expenses. 

Internal Medicine, Sports

UAMS is also adding a three-year postgraduate internal medicine residency program, which is now working toward accreditation. UAMS expects to admit its first group of eight physicians in July 2015.

Eventually, the internal medicine residency program will support 24 total residents who will serve in five hospital systems across the region.

Some of the grant money, will be used to create a sports medicine fellowship at UAMS Northwest, giving physicians specialized training in physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries.

"UAMS Northwest has been fortunate since its inception to have a broad base of support from the region's leaders in health care, government and the business community," UAMS Chancellor Dr. Dan Rahn said in a news release.

UAMS established the northwest campaus in 2007. Early this year, enrollment reached an all-time high of 185 students and resident physicians in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and the allied health professions.