Alice Walton plans new nonprofit medical school

Alice Walton, courtesy photo

Walmart heir Alice Walton last week announced plans to build a new nonprofit medical school.

The Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences is described as a state-of-the-art education and training facility that will be built somewhere in Bentonville. No specific location was revealed.

The plan is to break ground in 2022 and to begin classes in the fall of 2024.

Walton in early 2020 announced the creation of the Whole Health Institute as part of a plan to address a broken healthcare system.

At the time, Walton said a holistic approach that incorporates mind, body and spirit could be part of a solution that focuses on preventative health by training doctors on the importance of exercise and nutrition.

“The Whole Health School of Medicine will help medical students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century through a reimagination of American medical education that incorporates mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, the elements of Whole Health, to help people live healthier and happier lives,” said Walton.

Building evidence-based approaches, the curriculum will infuse traditional and conventional medicine with integrative techniques and will include biomedical sciences, clinical training, medical entrepreneurship and research, according to a news release.

The program is allopathic, meaning graduates will receive a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.

In 2019, the Northwest Arkansas Council released a report which found that the region lost nearly $1 billion per year because people went outside the region for high-level specialty care. The council recommended establishing a four-year medical school and adding 200 additional residency positions.

The new school will collaborate with other healthcare organizations and seek clinical affiliations with local inpatient and outpatient providers. Organizers said discussions are already underway with Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Community Clinic, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, Northwest Medical Center, Washington Regional Medical Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest, Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.