|The Medical Center and Western Kentucky University|
already cooperate on other medical-education programs.
The Bowling Green deal "is poised to help alleviate a physician shortage in the region, allow WKU faculty access to medical research opportunities, demonstrate a community commitment to smart growth and help keep the area's best and brightest in Warren County," Highland writes. "Medical school students will attend classes here in Bowling Green in a building on the campus of The Medical Center. The medical degree will be conferred by UK, and a certain number of slots in the program here will be available first to WKU students," starting with 30 in 2018.
Dr. Don Brown, The Medical Center's director of medical education, told Highland, "It's not every day that you're able to get a medical school in your community and this is a big accomplishment. . . . The closest medical school to us is Louisville or Vanderbilt" University, in Nashville. "We lose a lot of pre-med students to medical schools and they go away. We know if a Kentuckian trains in Kentucky, he or she is likely to stay in Kentucky."
Connie M. Smith, president and CEO of Med Center Health, told Highland in an email that the school will be in "new construction" on The Medical Center campus, not in the Health Sciences Complex at WKU, which houses the university's nursing and physical-therapy programs.
"Kentucky, like many other rural states across the nation, faces a shortage of physicians who are desperately needed to care for our aging population," Smith said. "This problem will only increase in scope if creative solutions are not identified."
Smith added, "We are already witnessing a level of excitement and intrigue throughout our medical community in regards to this project. Most physicians feel a responsibility for training the next generation, and they take this responsibility very seriously. We believe the medical school will bring about an unprecedented level of commitment to delivering the best in evidence-based care to patients throughout our region."
WKU Provost David Lee said, "This is a part of the state that needs more doctors, and it needs more medical professionals of all kinds,"I think this is only going to enhance the health care that is available to citizens of south-central and Western Kentucky."