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IU School of Medicine – Northwest celebrates 40 years of physician education

Recent renovation to allow for increased enrollment

Wednesday Oct 17, 2012

Indiana University School of Medicine –Northwest (IUSM-NW) recently celebrated a milestone: 40 years of physician education. What originally began with four students, four decades ago, has now become one of the largest and most innovative medical education centers within the IU School of Medicine. 

More than 650 physicians have been educated through IUSM-NW since the medical school’s inception in 1972. Patrick Bankston, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Director of IU School of Medicine-Northwest and Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at IU Northwest, said the medical school is positioned to continue its growth.

With the medical school’s recent $1 million renovation of its educational facilities, IUSM-NW is now able to accommodate the enrollment growth that is expected to accompany the center’s recent expansion to a four-year program. Each class is expected to increase by 88 percent to a maximum of 32 students. This expansion would make the Northwest campus the third largest medical school class in Indiana outside of the primary campus in Indianapolis.

The IUSM-NW renovation produced a state-of-the-art learning environment complete with two reconfigured classrooms that each can accommodate up to 50 students, and which can be merged into one classroom. Three 80-inch television monitors are mounted in each classroom, providing students with almost life-sized images

Additional renovations include increases in the number of study rooms from 10 to 14, and in the number of group learning rooms from six to eight.

At a celebratory ribbon-cutting event hosted at IUSM-NW in October, donors who made the renovation possible enjoyed a firsthand look at how the school’s vision has become a reality.

“Healthcare remains the most vital and stable sector of Northwest Indiana’s economy,” Bankston said.“And the educational experience provided at IU School of Medicine - Northwest is second to none.  The future of patient care in our region is dependent upon our ability to attract and educate enough of tomorrow’s physicians and healthcare providers today.

“Statistics show that a majority doctors tend to stay in the area where they are educated and trained. In a broad sense, our generous donors are helping to improve the health and vitality of the region.”

Staying Local

Staying local is the goal of J.J. Cox, a second-year medical student at IUSM-NW. In fact, that has been his plan since day one, when he enrolled as an undergraduate at Indiana University Northwest.

Graduating in 2011 with his Bachelor of Chemistry from IU Northwest, Cox was fully immersed in research even prior to being a medical student.

“After my freshman year as an undergraduate, I was able to participate in and assist with research alongside School of Medicine faculty,” Cox said. “This is an experience that I was afforded early on and it gave me insight into the medical profession. I believe it is a real asset for my future.”

Now in his second year of medical education, Cox is able to participate in more hands-on patient experiences and research, as well as have a voice in the future of medical curriculum.

“In the six years I’ve been on the Northwest campus, I’ve seen lots of changes in curriculum, and now in the physical space of the medical school,” Cox explained. “One of the things I like most about the structure of the curriculum is the continuous quality improvement that both students and faculty participate in. It gives us a chance to provide feedback on what we feel is the most important part of the course, and the areas that need to be improved upon.”

Consistent success

Despite the four decades separating Cox and Thomas Kolakovich, M.D. one of the first four students to join the Northwest medical education center in 1972, a common bond binds them together: high-quality, innovative physician education.

In a letter read at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kolakovich expressed his thoughts about the preparation he received at IUSM-NW.

“It didn’t take me long to confirm that the education I received at the IU School of Medicine – Northwest was top shelf, and prepared me well for the next three years of medical school. I did graduate (from medical school) with honors, and I attribute this in large measure to getting off to a great start in my first year.”

Future Renovation, Support Needed

The second stage of IUSM-NW’s fundraising effort is already underway; the school is now working to raise funds for the expansion of the gross anatomy lab.

If you would like to contribute, please contact Dr. Patrick Bankston at or at (219) 980-6562.

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