Construction begins on Southern Utah’s first medical school

Conceptual rendering of Rocky Vista University | Image courtesy Rocky Vista University, St. George News

IVINS – Site preparation work is expected to begin soon for a new medical school to be built in Ivins City as part of a rapid construction schedule aimed at finishing a 104,000 square-foot medical school and adjacent student housing by June 2017.

Rocky Vista University master concept plan | Image courtesy of Ivins City, St. George News
Preliminary Rocky Vista University master concept plan | Image courtesy of Ivins City, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

The Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Southern Utah, will be the second medical school in Utah – University of Utah School of Medicine was the first. Rocky Vista is expected to be open and accepting students by August 2017.

The campus will be the second for Rocky Vista University, Julie Rosenthal, executive director of admissions and marketing for the university, said. The first location is in Parker, Colorado.

Rocky Vista’s new campus will be located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Center Street and 200 East in Ivins, on a 30-acre parcel of land that surrounds the Southern Utah Veterans Home.

“It’s a thrilling thing to have coming,” Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said. “We’re anxious to get it underway.”

The project is almost a month behind schedule, although construction is on a fast-track, Hart said. A silt fence has been installed around the property and grading for site preparation is expected to begin within the week.

“All of the architectural work and the engineering and the soils work and everything had to be done on a very, very rapid schedule, very aggressive schedule, and sometimes it doesn’t all quite get done in time,” Hart said. “They’ve not only got the school to build, but they’ve got three apartment units – student housing units – to build, too.”

Elevations of the planned Rocky Vista medical school | Image courtesy of Ivins City, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge
Preliminary elevation plans of the new Rocky Vista medical school | Image courtesy of Ivins City, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

As construction on the medical school starts, the city will begin work to extend 400 East north of Center Street to 200 North to allow access to the campus. No traffic disruption is expected during the Rocky Vista construction, Hart said.

In addition to the new building, Rocky Vista has acquired the former Snow Canyon Clinic for use as administrative offices and clinical practice. The building will be renovated this spring and summer, and student interviews will be conducted at the office starting in September.

Rocky Vista will have 125-150 students in its first class, with the same number expected the following year. A total of up to 300 students at a time will be in training at the school.

Medical students spend the first two years in classes and the following two years off-campus at regional hospitals and clinics. The final two years for these students will be spent in residency programs at hospitals in the Rocky Mountain region, Hart said, including Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.

The new medical school will provide opportunities for local students to study and then practice medicine in the Southern Utah region, Hart said in an earlier interview, which is expected to benefit Washington, Iron and Kane counties.

The school will also benefit the area economically, with students and their families living in or visiting Southern Utah, Hart said. The faculty and students will be a good addition to the area, enhancing the long-term caliber of education for local children by encouraging students who may want to attend medical school.

Rocky Vista will begin accepting applications in September and competition is expected to be fierce, Rosenthal said, as it is at the university’s Parker, Colorado, campus.

“We received close to 6,000 applications for the 150 (available) seats,” she said of the Parker, Colorado, campus.

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