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Breaking ground on a new era of medical education

This piece originally appeared on the Good Notes.

March 16, 2020, is a day we’ll never forget. It’s the day we moved all medical students out of hospitals and clinics. In response to COVID-19, learning medicine suddenly became virtual. And in-person clinical training temporarily stopped.

Two months later, students returned to clinical settings at a critical moment. They helped with patient care when our health system was under tremendous strain.

Our resilient medical school community rallied together to weather this storm. We made sure every student completed their requirements and graduated on time.

Navigating these circumstances caused us to reflect. “If we had the chance to start over, how would we change medical education?”

Pre-pandemic, we embarked on a five-year plan to re-envision our MD program. Post-pandemic, we moved ahead with renewed purpose and resolve.

Then something spectacular happened. Our medical school received an historic $110 million gift from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation.

In October, we broke ground on the new Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. The building will open in 2025. The promise of a new home is driving innovation in our MD program.

Design with a purpose

We are creating a new culture of learning at our medical school. This culture emphasizes group and individual learning, relationships, and professional identity. Flexibility and community became guiding design principles for our new 185,000-square-foot facility.

Flexibility 

Traditional amphitheater-style lecture halls were a one-size-fits-all approach to education. The Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine features adaptable spaces and technology.

New learning studios promote team- and case-based learning. The studios divide and sub-divide for large and small groups. These flexible spaces support greater collaboration and cross-disciplinary opportunities across health science professions.

A modern gross anatomy lab and advanced simulation center will be steps away from the learning studios.

We are expanding training opportunities in under-resourced communities throughout Utah. New integrated technology meets the needs of students wherever they are—on or off campus.

Community

In addition to flexibility, the design includes common areas for socializing. These spaces will help faculty and students build relationships in a new way. Stronger faculty-student relationships lead to better student performance.

Relationships across generations of students are also critical to learning. Currently, a limited number of students can gather at once. In our new home, all four medical school classes can share the same space.

A home suitable for its occupants

Facilities like the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine propel our work. But it’s our people who make us a nationally ranked program.

We are nothing without the students who come to our medical school and the faculty and staff who support them. And we are nothing without our inspiring donors, local leaders, alumni and friends.

We look forward to welcoming our people to a place where they are proud to work, learn and train every day.