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Vice chancellor for UAMS northwest named. 

UAMS News Bureau

With 34 years of administrative experience in academic health care, Peter O. Kohler, M.D, has been named by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as vice chancellor for the Northwest Arkansas Region and will lead efforts to open a UAMS campus in northwest Arkansas.

Kohler, who retired in 2006 after serving 18 years as president of the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, has been named vice chancellor for the Northwest Arkansas Region of UAMS. His career includes nine years, from 1977-1986, when he served as chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at UAMS. He served as interim dean for the UAMS College of Medicine in 1985-1986.

UAMS is in planning stages for a satellite campus in Fayetteville that would include the UAMS colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health Related Professions. Kohler will lead the planning in northwest Arkansas, working with community leaders, hospital administrators and local health care providers.

“It’s wonderful to have someone of Dr. Kohler’s experience and stature guiding us in creating a branch campus in northwest Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., who succeeded Kohler as College of Medicine dean before being named chancellor. “Dr. Kohler brings a passion for academic medicine and a long track record of success.”

At his retirement, Kohler was one of the longest serving presidents at an academic medical center in the United States. Among OSHU accomplishments during his tenure was an expansion of rural health care in the state through Oregon’s Area Health Education Centers as well as significant growth in research funding and annual patient visits to OSHU.

A recent facilities expansion on the OSHU campus included the 335,000-square-foot Peter O. Kohler Pavilion, with additional outpatient and inpatient capacity. OSHU also is working toward creating a satellite campus.

“I believe strongly in the need to expand the pipeline for producing more doctors, pharmacists and health care professionals,” Kohler said. “Creating a satellite campus as a way to produce more health care professionals is an option being used across the country, including in Oregon. I am excited about the work ahead of us in turning this vision into a reality to benefit the people of Arkansas.”

An already rising demand for health care, along with the retirement of the baby boomer generation – the oldest of whom turned 60 last year – could overburden a health care system that already does not have enough doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

In 2006, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) cited growing evidence of a physician shortage and recommended a 30 percent increase in enrollment at the country’s medical schools by 2015. UAMS has planned for a 20.4 percent increase in medical school enrollment from 2005 to 2010.

UAMS has increased enrollment in many of its programs and is undergoing a campus expansion in part to educate more students. However, the campus expansion cannot provide space for graduating enough new health care professionals, Wilson said. A satellite campus in another part of Arkansas would allow UAMS to accept more students.

“This new campus will not only benefit Northwest Arkansas but is a key element in UAMS’ overall plan to train more physicians to meet the needs of patients throughout rural Arkansas,” Wilson said.

Kohler earned his medical degree in 1963 from the Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina. He entered academic health care administration in 1973 as chief of the Endocrinology Division for the Department of Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Kohler and his wife, Judy, already have family ties to Arkansas. Two of their four grown children live in Arkansas, along with four of their eight grandchildren.

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