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KU School of Medicine–Salina opens innovative new campus

July 25, 2011

The director of the School of Medicine–Salina campus, Dr. William Cathcart-Rake, talks to Salina's new first-year medical students, including Kayla Johnson, on the first day of orientation.

In a move designed to help address the state's critical need for more doctors, the University of Kansas School of Medicine has opened its new campus in Salina. The innovative medical education program is aimed at students with a strong desire to practice in rural areas.

With a class size of eight students, KU's Salina campus is the smallest four-year medical-education site in the country. University leaders believe it can serve as a model for the nation.

"Twelve Kansas counties don't have a single full-time physician. Even those counties with full-time physicians are struggling to meet the population's needs. Our graduates have a deep commitment to practicing in these underserved areas," said Barbara F. Atkinson, MD, executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center. "The eight students who are starting medical school in Salina this year, and the eight who follow in their footsteps each year from now on, will benefit our state tremendously."

The Salina students will have an educational experience that is as high-tech as it is intimate. Students will receive some training with their peers on the Kansas City and Wichita campuses via interactive televideo and podcasts. Other training will take place in the offices of rural physicians and at the Salina Regional Health Center, adjacent to the school's Braddick Building.

"Many parts of the United States are sparsely populated geographic areas where people need medical care," says William Cathcart-Rake, MD, a Salina-based oncologist who is directing the KU School of Medicine-Salina. "By training physicians in a non-metropolitan area, we are showing young medical students that life can be good, and practice can be stimulating outside of the big city."

The KU School of Medicine is the only medical school in Kansas, and one of the nation's leading institutions for training primary care and rural physicians.

In addition to opening the campus in Salina, the School of Medicine welcomed the first class of four-year medical students to its Wichita campus today.

Until now, each incoming School of Medicine class consisted of 175 students, all of whom completed their first and second years of training at the main campus in Kansas City, Kan. For the third and fourth years of clinical training, approximately 55 students went to the Wichita campus. This year's entering class is 191 students, with 8 first-year students in Salina and 8 first-year students in Wichita. Beginning in 2012, the first-year class in Wichita will expand to 28. As the first- and second-year classes progress in Wichita, additional students from Kansas City will continue to join them for the third and fourth years.

Total number of KU School of Medicine first-year students:

  • Prior to 2011: 175
  • Beginning in 2011: 191 (175 in Kansas City, 8 in Wichita, 8 in Salina)
  • Beginning in 2012: 211 (175 in Kansas City, 28 in Wichita, 8 in Salina)

Total KU School of Medicine enrollment:

  • Prior to 2011: 700 (four classes of 175 students)
  • In 2016 and beyond: 844 (four classes of 211 students)

"These campus expansions are the result of leadership, hard work and dedication from our School of Medicine," said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "We are deeply grateful for enormous support from the medical, philanthropic and civic communities who have helped make it possible for KU to educate more physicians to improve the lives of Kansans."

Financial support for the Salina campus comes from a $1 million gift from Salina Regional Health Center, $225,000 from the Salina Regional Health Foundation and $75,000 from Russell physician Earl Merkel and his wife, Kathleen. Nearly $3 million has been raised for the expansion of the Wichita campus, including an $800,000 gift from the Kansas Health Foundation.

All KU School of Medicine students will spend this week in orientation. On Friday, they will take part in the annual White Coat initiation ceremony in Kansas City.

The school will then host a ribbon cutting on the Salina campus from 4 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the Braddick Building, 400 Santa Fe Ave.


Last modified: Jul 26, 2018