UAMS Northwest Receives $650,000 from Walmart Foundation for Distance Learning Technology

By Jon Parham

The grant from the Bentonville-based retailer’s charitable foundation will allow for interactive video equipment and information technology resources in a computer lab and classrooms, improving the education programs at the regional campus.

“We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for this grant that will give us the technology and tools needed for students at our growing regional campus in northwest Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “UAMS Northwest is an important element in our commitment to meet the growing demand for health care professionals in Arkansas.”

The technology will allow live lectures to be transmitted between Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. Recording and storing lectures delivered on either campus will provide opportunities for students to review important content at their convenience, regardless of enrollment location.

“The Walmart Foundation is pleased to partner with UAMS Northwest as it continues to increase its presence in northwest Arkansas while producing tomorrow’s physicians and pharmacists,” said Karen Parker, senior manager of the Walmart Foundation.

There are 10 third- and fourth-year medical students on the campus now. There are 21 senior pharmacy students now completing their clinical experiences at pharmacies in northwest Arkansas.

The technology is expected to be in place by July 2011. Eighteen medical students on campus then will be joined in the fall 2011 by more than 20 third-year pharmacy students.

The regional campus anticipates 250-325 students and resident physicians when full enrollment is reached.

“The new information technology equipment will allow increased and more convenient contact between students and faculty,” said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest Arkansas Region. “While our regional campus allows us to expand enrollment, this technology infrastructure will ensure our academic programs remain seamless between the two campuses.”

From weekly teleconferences with faculty at either campus to quizzes and tests administered online, Kohler said he anticipated many uses for the equipment.

In 2009, the Walmart Foundation gave a $1 million gift to the UAMS Northwest campus to renovate the first floor of the former Washington Regional Medical Center hospital building that houses the campus. The renovations provided conference space and classrooms as well as a clinical skills training center for the UAMS Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or