NAU’s new medical school to focus on community health care

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Northern Arizona University (NAU) announced it is designing a new medical school. The new medical school is part of the multi-faceted AZ Healthy Tomorrow initiative that will rapidly accelerate the healthcare workforce in Arizona.

The school will prepare doctors for primary care practice in rural, underserved and Indigenous communities in Arizona. NAU Health is also looking for affordable pathways for Arizona residents to graduate and practice in-state with minimal debt.

Fred DuVal, Chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, and NAU President Dr. José Luis Cruz Rivera joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the details.

“The people of Arizona really deserve top-notch healthcare, especially primary healthcare. They deserve this throughout the state,” NAU President Cruz Rivera said. “What we have found is that in Arizona, as in many states across the country, there is a particular gap in access to high-quality healthcare when you’re talking about rural communities and in our case, tribal communities.”

NAU aims to plan and develop the launch of the first-ever primary healthcare-focused program for medical doctors to then go back to their local communities and serve them better.

The Arizona Board of Regents launched a program called “Arizona Healthy Tomorrow.” This plan aims to rapidly grow the healthcare workforce through creation of two new medical schools and an increased number of medical school graduates.

“We’re behind in the number of doctors relative to the size of our population. Every Arizonan that’s tried to get a doctor’s appointment and has a long wait understands what I’m talking about,” DuVal said. “We need more doctors.”

The Board of Regents has assigned each university for a different component of reaching that goal. The University of Arizona will try and produce more doctors focused on Tuscon and Phoenix. ASU will try to identify doctors who will also get an engineering degree and work in the space of wearables and technology and help drive the biotechnical economy of Arizona. NAU will be focused on rural Arizona, tribal communities and underserved communities.

“You deserve better healthcare,” DuVal said. “The only way for that to happen is to reduce the number of citizens to doctors.”

Fred DuVal, Chair of the Arizona Board of Regents
Dr. José Luis Cruz Rivera, President, Northern Arizona University

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