Yesterday, Alice L. Walton School of Medicine announced the next steps in its development, including a new name reflecting its founder’s commitment and plans for a state-of-the-art medical education facility to be built in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Founded in 2021 by philanthropist Alice Walton, the School of Medicine, (formerly named Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences), will offer a four-year, medical degree-granting program that integrates conventional medicine with holistic principles and self care practices. Taught by leading medical practitioners and scientific minds, the first-of-its-kind medical school will help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century with a focus on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health and will include an attached clinic for clinical training in these concepts. The School of Medicine seeks to be a national medical school with the goal of welcoming its inaugural class in 2025, pending programmatic and institutional accreditation.*
The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine Board of Directors held their first meeting and voted unanimously to approve the name change on June 29.
Walton’s deep commitment to building a holistic approach to health care includes the creation of Whole Health Institute and a partnership with Cleveland Clinic and the Washington Regional Medical System to create a transformative health care system. Reflective of this commitment and vision, the School will now bear its founder’s name: Alice L. Walton School of Medicine.
“We are honored to add Alice L. Walton to the School of Medicine’s name, highlighting our founder’s dedication to reimagining medical education,” said Walter Harris, Chief Operating Officer for Alice L. Walton School of Medicine. “The School will remain grounded in whole health principles and teaching philosophies, poised to attract the best talent and create a pipeline for a new generation of whole health leaders.”
Building on evidence-based approaches to teaching, the curriculum will include rigorous training in whole health, humanities, integrative health approaches, research methods, and cutting-edge technologies, with a unique focus on interprofessional collaboration, mental health, social determinants of health, and nutrition. Equity, diversity, and inclusion will be high-priority areas. The School will support students, faculty, and staff, not only learning about self-care, but also emphasizing it in their own lives.
Arkansas-based firm Polk Stanley Wilcox has been selected as the lead architects for the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine building project. Currently in the design development phase, construction of the 154,000 square-foot building will begin in Spring 2023, with the goal of completing and welcoming the first class in Fall 2025, pending accreditation. The School of Medicine will be located east of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and connected through the trails to its sister organization, Whole Health Institute.
“The design integrates the building into both the site and the community, engaging the land as an abstraction of Ozark geology that embraces the principles of integrated medicine, and the holistic link between mental, physical, and spiritual well-being,” said Wesley Walls, AIA, Principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox.
The building design features four levels and will include learning halls and small group rooms, a library, clinical teaching spaces, administrative offices, a student lounge, theater, recreation and wellness areas, and more. Underground parking as well as an entry-level parking area for visitors completes the design.
Conceived as an extension of Crystal Bridges’ forest, the trails seamlessly extend onto the School’s campus; the ridges of the building’s structure create valleys, provide shade, and generate views within and beyond. The building’s front corner elevates above the ground-plane, creating a protective canopy that allows community access through and onto the building. Whether arriving by foot, bicycle, or vehicle, the campus invites students and visitors under the abstracted “bluff shelter” on the building’s public façade facing J Street.
Outdoor features of the rooftop park and surrounding site, designed by NYC-based design studio OSD, focus on holistically integrating the building with the woodlands of Crystal Bridges. Thoughtfully designed to support accessible pedestrian and bike networks, stewardship of regional ecology, and community connections, the site’s landscape features include a woodland meditation and foraging and healing gardens, wetland, outdoor classrooms, urban farming space, and a rooftop terrace that connects to balconies, a cafe, and an amphitheater.
“The School of Medicine is poised to be an inspiring learning environment that supports well-being, emphasizes innovation, and equips future physicians to be agents of change,” said School of Medicine Founder, Alice Walton. “We are excited to help pave the way for the next generation of holistic physicians and health professionals. This unique, site-responsive building will welcome students, staff, and visitors alike to explore this beautiful campus, serving a broader vision of enhancing quality of life in our region and beyond.”
The mission of Alice L. Walton School of Medicine is to create a new paradigm of medical education that integrates a holistic approach with conventional medicine. Founded in 2021 by philanthropist Alice Walton, the School of Medicine will offer a four-year, medical degree-granting program that integrates conventional medicine with holistic principles and self-care practices. Taught by leading medical practitioners and scientific minds, the first-of-its-kind medical school will help students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century with a focus on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Currently, the School of Medicine is seeking programmatic and institutional accreditation with the goal of welcoming its inaugural class in 2025. Learn more at ALWmedschool.org.
Images Courtesy of Alice L. Walton School of Medicine.