WKU, UK form new partnership in medicine

Monica Kast

WKU and Morehead State University will be partnering with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to create a satellite program for medical degrees.

By late 2018, students will be able to study in Bowling Green and Morehead while earning degrees through the UK College of Medicine.

WKU students who enroll in this program will study at The Medical Center in Bowling Green, and Morehead State students will study through the St. Claire Regional Medical Center.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a shortage of physicians and especially primary care physicians throughout the state but particularly in rural areas,” UK President Eli Capilouto said at a press conference announcing the partnership on Thursday. “This is an acute health care need and an economic one as well.”

During the announcement, Capilouto said the partnership among the three schools resulted from the need for more physicians in Kentucky and from the UK College of Medicine’s reaching its enrollment capacity.

The hope for the program is that students will stay and work in the areas where they earned their degrees.

“The demand for medical education at the University of Kentucky is high, and it increases year after year,” Capilouto said. “Our applicant pool runs deep with very qualified candidates, and we have the opportunity to meet Kentucky’s demand when we collaborate with regional partners.”

Currently, UK’s College of Medicine has 521 students, and this program will expand it by approximately 30 percent.

“That’s 30 percent more students per class committed to healing Kentucky families,” Capilouto said.

President Gary Ransdell also spoke at the press conference to talk about the impact this program will have on WKU.

“This announcement today of a collaboration of a full four-year medical school, an extension of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine here in Bowling Green, does indeed meet our need to serve South Central Kentucky and Western Kentucky with our health care priorities,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said this program will complement degrees — specifically those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — offered at WKU through the College of Health and Human Services and the Ogden College of Science and Engineering.

“This also provides a pathway for our WKU pre-med students to be able to pursue a medical school degree from the University of Kentucky here in Bowling Green and hopefully stay here in Bowling Green to go to work to further serve our region as physicians [in] our community,” he said.

According to a press release from the UK College of Medicine, the program will begin as early as 2018.