$70 million medical school could be coming to Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

$70 million medical school could be coming to Wausau

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- A $70 million project could be in the works to start a new medical school in Wausau. It would be just the third medical school in the state. Organizers said they think Wausau would be the perfect spot to train future physicians.

Aspirus has been working with the Wisconsin College of Osteopathic Medicine on plans to build a medical school. With physician shortages reported across the state, Gregg Silberg, the dean of WCOM, said the college can combat the trend by training more students.

"That's the reason why we're so focused in moving as quickly as we can here in getting this moving forward if it's the right thing to do," said Silberg.

The two groups have been working on preliminary studies for more than a year and said nothing's set in stone yet. But Wausau's mayor Jim Tipple said he welcomes the chance to bring new opportunities to the area.

"We believe it will be a strong complement to our already-strong healthcare services we have in the region," said Tipple.

Other schools in Wausau offer medical programs, but Silberg said the facility would add, instead of take away, from their student base. The dean at UW-Marathon County said he's intrigued by the idea. He said students looking at medical school are past the point of his university anyway. Officials at Aspirus agree.

"We see this as being very collaborative with that," said Aspirus chief financial officer Sid Sczigelski. "It's not replacing that, it's not in competition with that."

The proposed 60,000 square foot facility would likely be built on Wausau's Aspirus campus. Like an M.D., osteopathic physician students would need to go through medical school and three years of residency, focusing on a curriculum of mind, body and spirit. The earliest the grads would be hitting the workforce would be around 2020, following in the footsteps of many more from around the area.

"Clearly we have high-quality health care in north-central Wisconsin," said Sczigelski. "This will help us ensure that continues."

Aspirus and WCOM plan to decide whether to move forward with the plan in the next four months. Organizers said they don't have definite plans for funding yet. If the project gets a green light, it could open its doors to students by 2013.

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