Intermountain Healthcare has gifted $15 million to the University of Utah for a new medical school building.
Construction will begin in 2019 and is planned to be completed in 2022.
Intermountain Healthcare’s not-for-profit operation is the largest health care provider in the state. The company said the donation comes as an effort to help train top-notch doctors, foster a program to benefit future medical students and demonstrate proper patient care.
“Supporting medical education is a very important part of our mission commitments,” said Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison. “We see this gift to the School of Medicine an investment in the future of healthcare in our state.”
The U trains 125 new doctors, 44 physician’s assistants and more than 1,000 dentists, nurses, physical therapists, dietitians and other health care specialists each year.
The current medical school building is 52 years old. Intermountain Healthcare’s donation helps soften the estimated $185 million cost of a new one.
“In addition to its structural and safety issues, the current School of Medicine Building does not provide flexible learning space and does not lend itself to interdisciplinary education, practice and learning,” said interim medical school Dean Wayne Samuelson. “The new building will facilitate innovation and will link learning to advances in patient care. It will accommodate cutting-edge technology that will allow us to educate physicians for the next 50 years and beyond.”
As technology has advanced, according to Samuelson, students and faculty are finding the need to catch up.
“When the current building was constructed, nearly all educational content was delivered in a lecture format, and students would migrate into the hospital to learn the practical and procedural aspects of medicine,” Samuelson said. “Current technology allows students to accelerate the acquisition of didactic information and facilitates integration of procedural skill, physical diagnosis technique and treatment. A new facility will give these efforts a home they do not currently have. Students will be able to manipulate their learning environment to meet changing needs and allow flexibility in the curriculum.”
The U’s newly appointed President Ruth Watkins expressed her appreciation on Twitter.
“Today we announced Intermountain Healthcare @Intermountain is giving a generous $15 million gift to support the new Medical Education and Discovery Building at the School of Medicine, which will be a hub for our education and training efforts,” the post read. “Thank you to this great partner!”
Intermountain Healthcare sees a relationship with the U and values its programs because a number of its employees were trained and graduated from the school.
“We have so many close personal connections,” Harrison said. “Of course, both Intermountain and the U are honored to have ties to Dr. Russell M. Nelson, current president of the LDS Church. A cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Nelson is an alumnus and former professor of the School of Medicine who also practiced for many years at Intermountain’s LDS Hospital. So the histories of our institutions are intertwined—and we’re excited to have our futures intertwined as well,”
The new building is expected to include training provided through practice on animatronic mannequins and patient actors.
“We believe that the best recruitment to our medical school is accomplished through the success of the students we train here,” Samuelson said. “The new building will enhance learning and training and will without question attract more students who want to be a part of what we do here.”