UAMS Northwest Campus Receives $1.5 Million from Walker Charitable Foundation

By Jon Parham

LITTLE ROCK – Students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest campus will gain experience with real and simulated patients at a clinic to be funded by a $1.5 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation announced today.

The gift provides funds for the construction of the Student Clinical Education Center. The 8,000-square-foot space on the first floor of the UAMS Northwest facility will be used by students in all of the academic programs at the UAMS regional campus.

The center will include the Clinical Skills Center, where students will work with volunteers – known as standardized patients – who simulate an illness. Also in the center will be the Student Continuity Clinic, where supervised students will follow real patients in an actual clinic setting throughout their training at UAMS.

“The Walker Foundation has shown time and again its support for UAMS and for efforts to improve health in Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “The growing UAMS Northwest campus will play an increasingly important role in the years ahead in our ability to produce more health care professionals to meet the already high demand for care in our state.”

The center is expected to open in early 2013 following renovations to add clinical training rooms, conference space and a nurses’ station, as well as provide the required technology and audio-visual components.

“The Walker Foundation is proud of its support of UAMS, which has helped so many people,” said Debbie Walker, executive director of the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. “We are excited to help with this latest project to improve the education of future doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals.”

By practicing with standardized patients, students perform assessments and practice their clinical skills in a non-threatening atmosphere and receive feedback from physician instructors monitoring their evaluations. It also provides video recording of their assessments that can be played back for additional evaluation of their skills.

In the continuity clinic, students are supervised while they evaluate a real patient. The student will see that same patient for follow-up visits, further expanding on clinical knowledge and expertise. 

“Clinical experience is a vital ingredient in medical education, giving our students the chance to work with patients in a controlled environment and receive feedback from instructors,” said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest Arkansas Region. “This tremendous gift will allow us to provide that clinical education on the UAMS Northwest campus instead of having to send students to the UAMS campus in Little Rock.”

Opened in 2009, UAMS Northwest enrollment for the fall 2011 semester totaled more than 135 students. This included 19 medical students and 37 pharmacy students along with nursing and radiologic imaging students and the medical residents that are part of the UAMS Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Northwest on the campus.

Eventual enrollment at UAMS Northwest is expected to be between 250-300 with students in medicine, pharmacy, nursing and allied health programs, along with resident physicians who will be serving residencies at area hospitals and clinics. 

In addition to its academic program, the AHEC Northwest on the campus provides medical care to patients in its family medical clinic and continuing education programs to health care professionals from across the region.

The Walker family’s support of UAMS now totals more than $48 million, including the gift that made the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute’s original Walker Tower possible. Other support has included gifts that funded the Pat Walker Tower of the UAMS Jones Eye Institute, the Walker Family Clinic in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute, the Pat and Willard Walker Memory Research Center in the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Carl L. Nelson, M.D. Orthopaedic Center.

The late Willard Walker was hired by Sam Walton as a store manager in the early days of Bentonville-based Walmart Stores Inc., today the world’s largest retailer. Willard Walker went on to help Walton build the Walmart retail empire. The Walkers shared their good fortune with many charitable organizations in Arkansas, becoming some of the state’s most generous philanthropists.

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 hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven 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, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or