New Medical School Addresses Arkansas Physician Shortage

A new facility on Arkansas State University’s Jonesboro campus will help address the state’s doctor shortage. Arkansas consistently ranks in the bottom quartile in national healthcare studies, and it ranks 49th in overall population health and 48th in percentage of active physicians per 100,000 people.

Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University
(Photos: NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.)

Thanks to a new instructional site of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), 115 new medical students will attend Arkansas State University Jonesboro when the facility opens for its first class this fall.

Planned and designed by DesignGroup, a Columbus, OH-based architectural design firm specializing in education, healthcare, library, and other civic buildings, the school had a groundbreaking in June. AMR Architects of Little Rock, AR was the local architect.

“This is an extraordinary development for the future of not only our institutions, but more importantly for the citizens of Arkansas and the Delta,” said Arkansas State University Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson. “We’re grateful to NYIT for seeking to expand its proven, highly regarded osteopathic curriculum for the benefit of students in this region. We appreciate the excellent work of DesignGroup.”

The school is housed in Wilson Hall, the oldest building on the Arkansas State University Jonesboro campus and a centerpiece on the historic quad.

“Located in the heart of the campus, Wilson Hall couldn’t be a more appropriate location for the new school of medicine to showcase its importance and meaning to the communities of Arkansas,” said Elliott Bonnie, AIA, who led the project at DesignGroup.

The 86,000-square-foot hall required a major renovation to incorporate an osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, gross anatomy lab, simulated operating room and emergency room skills lab among other classrooms. Since distance learning will be an important part of the curriculum, what once was a library is now a multimedia classroom that accommodates 132 students. The auditorium has also been transformed into a high-tech classroom, but historic elements of it have been incorporated into the design that is sensitive to the original Art Deco style of the building. Four of the auditorium’s original lights that had been removed – but saved – during an earlier renovation have been added to a stairwell.

Other elements saved from the 1930’s era building include the marble walls of the front lobby, decorative stamped metal panels under the windows and a stone carving of “the scholar” over the original library entrance.

“The renovated Wilson Hall will serve the medical school and the A-State and Jonesboro community well for years to come,” said NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D. “The residents of the region will enjoy improved health services as well as business development for the state of Arkansas and for the two universities.”