The $100 million Western Atlantic University School of Medicine (WAUSM) being built in Freeport, Grand Bahama has reached a construction milestone. It is slated to complete its first phase by the end of the year and welcome students by January 2022.
The first phase, comprised of 36,000 square feet of classrooms, a laboratory and simulation facilities, will welcome 50 students when it opens next year, building to 200 students by September 2022, according to a statement from WAUSM.
The campus is being constructed on the East Sunrise Highway behind the Lucayan Medical Centre and has provided about 50 construction jobs to date.
When the campus fully opens, 350 permanent full-time jobs will be available for Bahamians, according to the statement.
WAUSM’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Peter Goetz said hiring Bahamians is part of the school’s plan to be a player in Freeport’s development.
“Hiring local residents to help build this world-class medical school is a reflection of our values. We very much want WAUSM to be the catalyst toward Freeport’s renaissance,” Goetz said.
“Having Bahamians at the center of our hiring practices will help to revitalize this special place, a place we are so pleased to call home.
“The university is a foundational project that will create significant economic benefits for Grand Bahama, both in the near term and for decades to come.”
The statement added: “While the initial jobs are primarily construction related, WAUSM is already placing position openings on the medical school’s website.”
The government and WAUSM signed an agreement for the Freeport-based medical school in October of 2019 and construction began eight weeks ago.
According to the statement, the 50-acre campus will house a 340,000-square-foot facility when all three phases are complete.
“WAUSM’s students will spend five 15-week semesters in Freeport (20 consecutive months), before moving to the United States for clinical clerkships at the university’s partner teaching hospitals,” the statement noted.
“With managed enrollment growth, WAUSM projects having 200 students in Freeport by September 2022, doubling this number by the end of 2023 and then increasing by about 100 students every year over the next 10 to 15 years.”
WAUSM President Dr. Joseph Flaherty said in the statement that the school’s proximity to Florida will make it a prime choice for those hoping to enter the medical profession.
“With this construction milestone, our medical school and its staff are one step closer to moving into what will be the most contemporary pre-clerkship campus among our medical education peers,” said Flaherty.
“Our MD graduates will help address the impending projected physician shortage, specifically in the US and Canada.”
WAUSM’s Executive Dean Paula Wales added: “We are thrilled to see our thoughtfully designed campus take shape in Freeport. Western Atlantic University School of Medicine will truly be an integral part of Grand Bahama for many years to come.”