CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte will soon have a new school in town, and it'll be the Queen City's first-ever four-year medical school.
The Wake Forest School of Medicine announced in a news release Wednesday the school plans to expand to a 20-acre site in the Midtown area by 2024, located at the current corner of Baxter Street and South McDowell Street. The announcement of this second campus was made by leaders from the school, Atrium Health, Wake Forest University, and Wake Forest Baptist Health.
“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,” Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health, said. “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.”
The school says the new campus will be located less than three-quarters of a mile from the Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, and that current renovations at the flagship hospital will ensure students have access to the latest state-of-the-art technology and facilities as they learn.
“This location for Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Charlotte campus will provide our students the perfect mix of expertise,” Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, chief academic officer for Atrium Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, said. “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.”
Dr. Nathan O. Hatch, president of Wake Forest University, said the move to open a new school in Charlotte makes sense, saying "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."
As part of a pull for students, Atrium president Woods announced the health system has established the Bishop George E. Battle Jr. Scholarship fund to help students living in underserved communities continue their education.
The bishop is an emeritus member of Atrium's Board of Commissioners and Health Foundation Board and has led efforts to secure affordable housing, parks, small businesses and extracurricular programs in the community, including in the historically Black Biddleville-Five Points community in West Charlotte.
The fund will get an initial $5 million seeding for students pursuing health sciences degrees at an Atrium Health-affiliated college or university, including the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Carolinas College of Health Science, and Cabarrus College of Health Sciences.
Atrium Health has also promised to involve the community to match the initial seeding to create a total $10 million fund by the time the first students are seated at the Charlotte campus in 2024.
Ground on the new Charlotte campus is set to be broken in the first quarter of 2022 after the zoning approval process is finished. Atrium's technology offices that are already on the site will be replaced with the larger mixed-use campus.