Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences Infographic

Alice Walton, the billionaire heir to the Walmart fortune, has announced plans to build a medical school in Northwest Arkansas.


Details, including cost, are somewhat limited for the moment. But she said she expected it to be an accredited medical school and expand on her earlier initiatives to promote a holistic approach to healthier lives.

The aim is to break ground next year and open to the first students in 2024.


A news release said:

The Whole Health School of Medicine will help medical students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century through a reimagination of American medical education that incorporates mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, the elements of Whole Health, to help people live healthier and happier lives,” Walton said in a news release.

The release continues:


“The creation of the Whole Health School of Medicine is a step forward in rethinking systems in our society to achieve better health and well-being,” said Tracy Gaudet, MD, Founding Executive Director of the Whole Health Institute. The core leadership team for the new School of Medicine includes:

  • Founding Dean, Elly Xenakis, MD, formerly Vice Chair for Education, the Division Chief of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division, and Residency Program Director in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio;

  • Executive Vice Dean, Colleen O’Connor, PhD, formerly Associate Dean, Curricular Affairs, at Duke University School of Medicine;

  • Vice Dean for Education, Adam Rindfleisch, MD, MPhil, formerly Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Medical Director in Integrative Health at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

This builds on the concept of the Whole Health Institute Walton announced earlier in Bentonville.

Arkansas has three medical schools, in Little Rock, Jonesboro and Fort Smith. The UAMS, based in Little Rock, also has a regional campus in Fayetteville.

The release said:

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences will collaborate closely with the healthcare community in Arkansas and beyond and seek clinical affiliations with local inpatient and outpatient providers. Discussions are underway for ongoing collaborations with local providers and members of the Northwest Arkansas Council Healthcare Transformation Division which includes Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Community Clinic, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, Northwest Medical Center, Washington Regional Medical Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest, Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.