Why Is a Nebraska University Building a Medical School in Phoenix?

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declares a proclamation in honor of Creighton University on September 18. The Jesuit university announced that it will build a new medical campus in Phoenix.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declares a proclamation in honor of Creighton University on September 18. The Jesuit university announced that it will build a new medical campus in Phoenix. Joseph Flaherty
Creighton University, a Catholic university in Omaha, Nebraska, is expanding its health sciences offerings in Phoenix with a new $100-million medical campus at the site of the former Park Central mall.

On Tuesday, the president of Creighton University unveiled the project at an event at the Phoenix Art Museum. The new health sciences campus will occupy what is currently a parking lot located along Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix.

"Creighton University is preparing for an exciting new era in Phoenix, one that combines our tradition for educational excellence in the health sciences with our distinctive Jesuit, Catholic mission," the Reverend Daniel S. Hendrickson said in a statement.

He was joined on stage by several elected officials, including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Greater Phoenix Economic Council CEO Chris Camacho, Phoenix Vice Mayor Jim Waring, and Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor.

The Creighton project will encompass 200,000 square feet, and construction is expected to be done by spring 2021. The campus will include a four-year medical school as well as nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy schools. Eight hundred Creighton students will study at the campus, according to the university.

Creighton has made forays into Phoenix before, but this is the university's biggest investment by far.

In 2009, the Jesuit university began sending medical students to Phoenix's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center to complete their third- and fourth-year rotations. There are currently around Creighton 100 students at the St. Joseph's campus.

Additionally, in January, Creighton created a program based in Phoenix for an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program, also located at St. Joseph's. The nursing program will move into a temporary Park Central site as soon as January 2019.

And last year, Creighton became a partner in the Creighton University-Arizona Health Education Alliance, intended to improve health education programs among the university, St. Joseph's Medical Center, and the Maricopa Integrated Health System.

The new Park Central campus will put Creighton in a position to compete for health care students with Phoenix's Grand Canyon University – also a Christian university – and Arizona State University.

The project is yet another addition to the educational institutions that have sought to relocate to downtown Phoenix, including the Thunderbird School of Global Management and other ASU schools. Like the Creighton medical campus, the new Thunderbird campus is also set to open in 2021 after moving from Glendale.

At the announcement, Ducey said that Creighton will be an asset to Arizona by training new medical professionals. He praised the partnerships Creighton has forged with local medical organizations.

"Arizona's need for health care professionals in the coming years is only going to increase," Ducey said. "And with this new investment, Creighton University is going to help to meet that need."
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty