ASU to establish medical school as part of wider health initiative

Jun 2, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: Oct 19, 2023, 11:25 am

Arizona State University announces it will establish its own medical school amid an ongoing shortag...

(KTAR News Photo/Balin Overstolz-McNair)

(KTAR News Photo/Balin Overstolz-McNair)

TEMPE — Arizona State University announced Thursday it is creating a new medical school in tandem with its engineering school in a statewide effort to upgrade health care access and quality.

President Michael Crow called the future graduates of what will be the ASU School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering “physician-engineers.”

The school is part of the university’s new ASU Health movement that also includes another upcoming public health technology school and more.

In turn, ASU Health is part of the Arizona Board of Regents’ AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative.

The overall ABOR goal is to mobilize state universities in Arizona to address barriers in healthcare and issues in the existing system.

“We are in the bottom quartile per capita in the number of physicians for our population,” ABOR Chair-Elect Fred DuVal said. “More than one in three Arizona hospitals face critical staffing shortages.”

ASU Health encapsulates other programs and movements such as the Arizona Health Observatory, a research hub that will provide key data to Arizona lawmakers.

They also want to bring more talent.

“What we’re after here is more ways to attract physicians to Arizona,” Crow explained.

That’s where the ASU Medical Masters Institute comes in, a program offering a one-year master’s degree for people who already have a medical undergrad.

“We will be working to triple the nurses we are producing, which is no small feat, I have to tell you,” Crow said.

Another key element is trying to boost health literacy.

“One of our problems relative to health outcomes is bringing the public along with us,” Crow said.

The university will attempt to educate Arizonans on how to be healthier in their lives and navigate the health care system.

Thirty million dollars have been set aside for these projects, and DuVal says more funds could come from private and public investments.

“What is the cost of bad care? What is the cost to Arizona’s families when they can’t see a doctor? What’s the cost when you have to drive for ours and then wait in a waiting room because there’s just insufficient care?” DuVal said.

“There are a lot of costs in our health care system, which are passed along, hidden, not accounted for, because we do not have the kind of capacity to serve the citizens that we need.”

Another goal is to lower costs not for the state, but for individual Arizonans.

Each project has different timetables, with new schools being in conceptual stages while Crow says they’re already trying to boost health literacy in the state.

Crow also indicated this is not the full scope of ASU Health once it’s fully realized.

“This is an entity which will follow the ASU tradition of being financed by its implementation,” Crow said.

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ASU to establish medical school as part of wider health initiative