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Partnership results in Wake Forest School of Medicine in Midtown
Campus near Carolinas Medical Center opens in '24
 
Published Wednesday, March 24, 2021 10:00 pm
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO | ATRIUM HEALTH
An artist's rendering of Wake Forest School of Medicine breaks ground next year on a 20-acre campus located in Midtown Charlotte less than mile away from Carolinas Medical Center.

Charlotte is finally getting its medical school.


A partnership between Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine will result in a 20-acre campus in Midtown at the corner of South McDowell Street and Baxter Street adjacent to US-277 where Atrium Health’s technology offices are located. Charlotte is the largest city in the nation without a four-year medical school but the campus, located within walking distance of Carolinas Medical Center, is expected to deliver an economic and health care boost for Charlotte.


An economic study by Tripp Umbach commissioned by Atrium Health found the school of medicine and connected healthcare and economic development would generate a predicted $5.2 billion impact and create nearly 43,000 jobs over the next 20 years.


The groundbreaking is scheduled for next year and the first class enrolls in 2024. Wake Forest School of Medicine’s anchor campus is located in Winston-Salem.


“Through our partnership with Wake Forest School of Medicine, today we fulfill a long-held desire for Charlotte to have a four-year medical school that will usher in a brand-new era of healthcare education, innovation and social impact,” Atrium Health president and CEO Gene Woods said Wednesday. “The significant investments we are making will not only enrich countless lives as we train the next generation of top-tier clinicians but will also be a pivotal economic driver that will propel us forward as we emerge from the pandemic, stronger than ever.”


Carolinas Medical Center, Atrium Health’s flagship hospital, is undergoing renovation, which will give medical students access to a state-of-the-art facility and technology for learning.

“This location for Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Charlotte campus will provide our students the perfect mix of expertise,” said Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, chief academic officer for Atrium Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine. “And with the latest technology, whether students are learning in Winston-Salem or this new, second campus, their immersive experience will be second to none. In addition to having the opportunity to learn from some of the finest minds in academia and take part in life-changing research, Wake Forest School of Medicine students and residents will have easy access to the renowned experts practicing at our combined world-class service lines across multiple
specialties.”


"A second campus for Wake Forest School of Medicine in Charlotte is truly a significant milestone for both health and education in the Southeast,” said Nathan Hatch, Ph.D., Wake Forest University's president. “It will also be a driving force for innovation in the corridor between Winston-Salem and Charlotte. This will further strengthen the academic bonds Wake Forest has with Charlotte and help advance learning, economic growth and opportunity. We are excited about the significant opportunities that our partnership with Atrium Health and the new facility will afford us, as we seek to better serve our communities in Charlotte and Winston-Salem and enhance the dynamic connections between the two vibrant cities."


Wake Forest School of Medicine began sending its first students to Carolinas Medical Center earlier this month as part of its rotations.


Woods also announced Atrium Health’s launch of the Bishop George E. Battle Jr. Scholarship Fund for continuing education of students who live in underserved communities. Battle, an emeritus member of Atrium Health’s Board of Commissioners and its foundation board, is a former member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

An initial $5 million endowment will seed the scholarship for students matriculating at an Atrium Health-affiliated college, including Wake Forest School of Medicine, Carolinas College of Health Sciences and Cabarrus College of Health Sciences. Atrium Health will also campaign for matching funds before the inaugural Wake Forest School of Medicine in Charlotte students enroll.


“We believe Atrium Health can play a significant role in providing equity in access to both healthcare and education. And that first starts by ensuring that students from disadvantaged and low-income communities have equal opportunity to pursue careers in health sciences,” Woods said. “Through the Bishop George E. Battle Jr. Scholarship Fund, our hope is that these young professionals will stay and join the Atrium Health family after they earn their degree – addressing the growing shortage of clinicians in both urban and rural communities across the Carolinas and beyond.”






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