Walmart heir's medical school moves forward

It's been more than a year since Alice Walton announced her plans for a national medical school in northwest Arkansas. New details about the facility and its goals are available.

Ms. Walton, the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, shared plans to finance and build a four-year medical school in Bentonville, Ark., in March 2021, with construction set to begin in 2022.

The institution was first named the Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences. On June 29, its board of directors unanimously approved the change in name to The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine. 

The school's board is made up of seven members, including Ms. Walton. Other members are: 

  • Marc Nivet, EdD, executive vice president for institutional advancement at UT Southwestern Medical Center 
  • Kate Hobbs Knutson, MD, chief health officer of Optum Behavioral Health Services 
  • James Young, MD, executive dean of Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University 
  • Steve Nelson, co-founder of Carbon 
  • Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine 
  • Cheryl Pegus, MD, executive vice president of health and wellness for Walmart 

Arkansas-based architecture firm Polk Stanley Wilcox is leading the building of the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine, with design currently in the development phase and construction of the 154,000 square-foot building to begin in spring 2023. The school aims to welcome its first class in fall 2025, pending accreditation.

Ms. Walton is founding the school with modern interpretations of medicine and health in mind. "Building on evidence-based approaches to teaching, the curriculum will include rigorous training in whole health, humanities, integrative health approaches, research methods, and cutting-edge technologies, with a unique focus on interprofessional collaboration, mental health, social determinants of health and nutrition," a news release from the school states. "Equity, diversity, and inclusion will be high-priority areas. The school will support students, faculty, and staff, not only learning about self-care, but also emphasizing it in their own lives." 

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