Northern Arizona University has launched the creation of NAU Health, an innovative initiative aimed at improving health outcomes for all Arizonans, particularly those in rural, Indigenous, and underserved communities.
Fueled by the Arizona Board of Regents’ (ABOR) Arizona Healthy Tomorrow initiative, NAU will build on its distinctive excellence in community health and health equity, and more than 60 years of experience with primary health professions programs, to build a College of Medicine and double the number of degrees awarded in healthcare fields. Together, these efforts will address Arizona’s critical need for more primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals.
College of Medicine
NAU’s College of Medicine will be intentionally designed to create accelerated pathways and affordable options for Arizona residents seeking to graduate and practice in-state with low debt.
This includes plans for a tuition coverage program similar to the Arizona Teachers’ Academy, where graduates who stay to practice in Arizona after graduation will have educational costs fully covered, as well as a curriculum that foregrounds cultural competency and integrates significant behavioral health perspectives to improve outcomes for patients and their communities.
NAU aims to make its College of Medicine a low/no-debt option for in-state residents, with tuition assistance, reduction, and forgiveness programs designed to retain physician graduates in-state for primary care practice.
Pathways to practice will be enhanced and accelerated by 3-year medical education programs, as well as 3+3 bachelors to MD pathways at NAU.
Built on NAU assets in health equity, population health, biomedical research, and Indigenous knowledge, the NAU College of Medicine will emphasize teaching and practice as opposed to a more highly-specialized research model often employed by medical schools.
Incorporating a variety of lenses and approaches throughout its curriculum, including behavioral health, community/population health, and culturally informed (Indigenous and Hispanic) health traditions and practices, the NAU College of Medicine will train resilient, practice-ready doctors able to work in communities throughout the state and contribute to improved individual and population health outcomes.
The College of Medicine will be a partnership-driven enterprise, collaborating closely with healthcare providers and agencies throughout the northern Arizona region. In addition, the design of the College and its curriculum and placement strategies will be informed by an expert Medical Education Advisory Committee comprised of state and national experts who will help identify and build promising partnerships that will contribute to the College’s success.
College of Nursing
NAU’s School of Nursing will be elevated to a free-standing college in recognition of this critical set of academic programs and the need to enhance visibility and impact at the state and national levels. In addition to continued growth in program offerings throughout the state, the College of Nursing will heighten NAU’s ability to address Arizona’s nursing shortage through strengthened partnerships, improved alumni relations, expanded development opportunities, and more robust recruitment and retention of talented, mission-driven nursing faculty.
Health professions in the College of Health and Human Services
NAU will double the number of degrees awarded and students retained to practice in Arizona across the health professions disciplines that include physical and occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, dental hygiene, and more.
Emphasis will be placed on creating pathways and partnerships with community colleges to accelerate educational attainment in these fields.
The development of a core inter-professional program that supports provider education across disciplines with skills aligned with the College of Medicine, including community practice and health equity.
The creation of residency and credential programs for practicing healthcare providers will advance practice in rural and underserved communities.
Leadership for NAU Health
NAU Health will be led by Julie Baldwin, PhD, who will serve as the founding Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA) Institute Vice President for NAU Health.