umc bryant naming 12The state-of-the-art structure that is the academic home to Mississippi’s flagship medical education program officially received its new name recently: the Phil Bryant Medical Education Building.

During a ceremony on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus, Gov. Bryant and First Lady Deborah Bryant unveiled a new sign on the front of the building.

Working with the Legislature, Gov. Bryant was instrumental in securing funding for the 151,000-square-foot, $76 million building. That support includes $10 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funding through the Mississippi Development Authority to launch the effort, as well as the governor’s help in securing $66 million in state bonds.

“There is no expression of gratitude that seems proper for this unique and auspicious occasion,” Gov. Bryant said. “My joy cannot be represented on an individual level, but as a collective accomplishment of everyone who had a hand in bringing this day to reality.

“The naming of this remarkable facility will soon fade into history, but its results will benefit Mississippians for generations to come.”

Administrators with the University of Mississippi thanked Gov. Bryant for supporting the mission and future of the School of Medicine.

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter saluted Gov. Bryant for his “unwavering commitment, vision and passion for helping generations of Mississippians lead healthier lives.

“This building and the resulting expanded classes will stand as a part of his legacy,” Vitter said. “Indeed, today is a tremendous celebration in honor of Gov. Bryant and a momentous milestone in the history of our Medical Center and for the state of Mississippi.”

Students began classes in the new building shortly after its August 4, 2017 dedication. It was designed especially for components of the School of Medicine, which was originally in the Medical Center complex that opened in July 1955. Over the years, demands for space have grown, and, as the Medical Center expanded, the medical school splintered into a network of disconnected sites, including some makeshift offices and labs.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s new $76 million School of Medicine, pictured here shortly before its dedication in August 2017, is a state-of-the-art structure that spans 151,000 square feet.

The Phil Bryant Medical Education Building includes a cutting-edge simulation training area, which was made possible in part by grants totaling nearly $5 million from the Hearin Foundation. It is also equipped with a mock operating theater, funded by the UMMC Alliance and the Manning Family Fund for a Healthier Mississippi, plus virtual reality spaces with high-fidelity task trainers, a clinical skills center, flexible-use spaces and more.

At roughly 185 doctors per 100,000 residents, Mississippi is the most medically underserved state in the nation. Addressing this issue has been one of Gov. Bryant’s highest priorities. His commitment to increasing the state’s number of physicians was a focal point of his 2013 State of the State address in which he observed that having more providers will create better health care access for Mississippians, resulting in lower costs.

The governor for years has broadly supported medical education efforts in the state. During the 2012 legislative session, Gov. Bryant signed House Bill 317 into law to establish more medical residency programs statewide, a move intended to allow more Mississippi-trained physicians to remain in the state.

That same year, Gov. Bryant championed and signed legislation creating Health Care Industry Zones to spur expanded access to health care and grow health care jobs.

The governor’s commitment to bringing more physicians to Mississippi and to growing the state’s health care economy “extends back to his term as lieutenant governor,” Vitter said.

“He recognized the crucial need to train additional doctors as well as the tremendous impact this medical school will have upon our state for generations to come.”

Medical school leaders began increasing class sizes several years ago in anticipation of the new building. The entering class grew from about 145 students to 155 this year, and will eventually top off at approximately 165.

It’s projected that the larger class sizes accommodated by the Phil Bryant Medical Education Building will generate about $1.7 billion in economic impact by 2025, and that the additional physicians trained will support more than 19,000 new jobs by the same year. The economic impact of practicing UMMC-trained physicians is more than $6.3 billion annually, and those physicians are estimated to support more than 60,000 jobs in the state.

“Gov. Bryant was the champion of the effort that resulted in this new education building for our School of Medicine,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school. “The future physicians who study the art and science of medicine in this building will truly make a difference in the lives of Mississippians.”