The University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Bowling Green Campus welcomed its first class of 30 medical students Aug. 3 during its inaugural white- coat ceremony at Western Kentucky University, Don Sergent reports for the Bowling Green Daily News.
This four-year, regional-campus medical school is the first of its kind in Kentucky. It was created through a partnership between UK, WKU and The Medical Center at Bowling Green in an effort to bring more doctors to the region.
A UK news release notes that the Bowling Green campus is a fully functioning campus, utilizing the exact curriculum and assessments as UK’s Lexington campus.
The 24,000-square-foot portion of the $28.3 million building on The Medical Center’s campus where the students will eventually be located won’t be ready until mid-September, so they will begin the program using facilities at The Medical Center and WKU, Sergent reports.
At the ceremony, Don Brown, assistant dean of the Bowling Green campus, bragged on inaugural class members for their many accomplishments and told the attendees that the selection process was highly competitive; and Associate Dean Todd Cheever said the class fit well with their goal of addressing the need for more physicians in Kentucky, Sergent reports.
“The vast majority of the students are from Kentucky, which is the mission,” Cheever said. “And the ones from out of state have Kentucky ties. I believe we have the right 30 students.”
Of the 30 new students, 26 are from Kentucky, representing 14 Kentucky counties, including five from Bowling Green or elsewhere in Warren County. The others are from Ohio, Tennessee and Florida.
Mallory Vaughn, a WKU graduate who has known since elementary school that she wanted to be a doctor, told Sergent that the Bowling Green campus “was an absolute dream for me. I get to work in the hospital I was born in. I’ll be able to prepare for my professional career and give back to the community that has nurtured me.”
Connor Donley, also from Bowling Green, told Sergent that he was ecstatic when he was selected for the inaugural class. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me personally,” said Donley, a UK graduate. “I’m excited that I’m going to be getting my education in the community where I grew up.”
Earlier the same day, 136 students received white coats in a ceremony at the UK College of Medicine’s Lexington campus.
A similar regional program is expected to open in Northern Kentucky in the fall of 2019, through a partnership between UK’s medical school, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Northern Kentucky University. It will have 35 students in its inaugural class. UK’s medical school also partners with Morehead State University and St. Claire Regional Medical Center to offer the Rural Physician Leadership Program.
All of these programs aim to bring more physicians into the rural parts of the state.