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NAU to launch new medical school focused on getting care to underserved communities

Northern Arizona University has announced it’s designing a new medical school intended to prepare doctors for primary-care work in the state’s rural, underserved and Indigenous communities.

The new medical school is part of the Arizona Board of Regents’ Healthy Tomorrow initiative. 

It leverages the combined resources of the state’s three public universities to address Arizona’s growing health care needs.

In a press release Friday, ABOR Chair Fred DuVal wrote:

“Our state’s population is growing yet Arizona ranks among the top five states with the most severe health care workforce shortages. We must act now to make sure our families and loved ones have access to the care they need. We are asking our universities to hit the accelerator and grow more qualified medical professionals. The result will be greater access to quality  care for residents across the state.”

It’s estimated that nearly 3 million Arizonans have limited access to primary care, and more than one in three Arizona hospitals face a critical staffing shortage.

Earlier this year, the University of Arizona announced a new College of Health Sciences, and Arizona State University is creating a School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering.

The board voted Friday to request $153 million in the FY2025 state budget to advance the Healthy Tomorrow initiative and fill the shortages. In partnership with the governor’s office, the board has also allocated $56 million to launch these initiatives.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.