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The University of Arizona medical center in downtown Phoenix

The doctors are in: Greater Phoenix healthcare education hub

Greater Phoenix is quickly becoming a hub of healthcare education

by Savannah King

Updated: 4/14/21

With more than $3 billion in bioscience capital expenditures earmarked for investment in Greater Phoenix from 2020-22, the region is a thriving biomedical hub for healthcare education. These investments will create more than 7,000 healthcare and biomedical jobs.

Fortunately, Greater Phoenix is home to some of the most innovative and forward-thinking educational institutions in the country.

Phoenix boasts unique healthcare education models

The Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC) is a 30-acre complex in downtown Phoenix with almost two million square feet of research, academic and clinical facilities for students earning advanced degrees in medical professions. The healthcare education campus was established in 2004 in partnership with the Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona and the City of Phoenix.

The PBC is home to a number of world-class health and bioscience facilities including Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, Translational Genomics Research Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy-Phoenix and the U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs office.

In March 2019, ASU and Wexford Science + Technology broke ground on a new building, the PBC Innovation Center, at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Wexford Science + Technology is a real estate development company that works exclusively with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop vibrant, mixed-use, amenity-rich knowledge communities.

“Wexford is all in on creating this knowledge community in downtown Phoenix,” says Jim Berens, founder and CEO of Wexford Science + Technology. “The reason we are so confident about its success is that when we look around the country at these kinds of projects, it starts with having a world-class university — and here, we have that in spades with Arizona State University, their research enterprise and their commitment to creating jobs and building communities.”

Creighton’s Phoenix campus

Creighton University broke ground on a 183,000-square-foot Phoenix campus in 2019 and is scheduled to open for classes in fall 2021. The Jesuit, Catholic university based in Omaha, Nebraska, is building the campus in midtown Phoenix, where it will house hundreds of health sciences students. The expansion will include a four-year medical school along with nursing, occupational and physical therapy, pharmacy and physician assistant programs.

“The next generation of health professionals will be built right here,” said Gov. Doug Ducey, who lauded the vision for the campus, which is eventually expected to serve nearly 900 Creighton students studying to be physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, and physical and occupational therapists.

Creighton University’s College of Nursing launched its first Phoenix-based Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in January 2018. The School of Medicine, which first came to Phoenix in 2009, will continue operating its third- and fourth-year programs out of space adjacent to Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center until construction is completed in time for classes in the fall of 2021.

The new Phoenix campus for Creighton will meet the University’s current healthcare education needs while providing ample room for expansion in the future, and the central Phoenix location makes it convenient for students completing their residencies and other studies at nearby hospitals.

“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,” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. “Creighton University has strong connections to the Arizona medical community, and we look forward to expanding our impact by educating many more exceptionally qualified healthcare professionals to serve the community moving forward.”

For Linda Hunt, CEO of Dignity Health Arizona, which includes St. Joseph’s and four other hospitals, the new campus fulfills a longtime dream for Dignity Health leaders.

“We had a dream years ago to find a Catholic partner that could offer medical education training to students,” she said. “Today, we are realizing that dream for Dignity Health and St. Joseph’s Hospital. This creates a place where students can be educated, with a strong spiritual component.”

The combined resources of Valleywise Health, Dignity Health, District Medical Group and Creighton University will provide access to high-quality teaching environments for Creighton students and medical residents, says Steve Purves, president and CEO of Valleywise Health.

“We at Valleywise Health are very pleased to be part of this exciting venture, which leverages our vision to be nationally recognized for transforming care to improve community health,” says Purves. “Our innovative Creighton Alliance will ensure that this health sciences campus and medical school provides exceptional student clinical training experiences, which are second to none.”

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This article was originally published in our 2020 Site Selection publication and updated in April 2021.

Learn more about the region’s healthcare ecosystem.