University Of Utah Medical Class Still Small While Need For Providers Grows

Ann McClure's picture

Within a few years of graduating from Southern Utah University with a degree in construction management, Sam Murray had an epiphany. He would rather heal people than build things, so he returned to the Cedar City campus to study biology, organic chemistry, anatomy and other prerequisites for medical school.

Now he has a dozen applications out, including one to the University of Utah, home to the only medical school within 500 miles of the state capital. But Murray’s chances of admission to the U. dimmed earlier this month when lawmakers declined the school’s request for funding to restore its medical class size to 102 seats.

"They should do what they can to maximize the available seats so those from Utah can go, especially if they want people to stay and practice here," said Murray, who grew up in St. George and is married with a first baby on the way.

The news also disappointed U. trustees, even though they were grateful many other funding requests — infrastructure upgrades, a modest pay hike, and bonding authority to build parking structures, an athletics training center and a law school building — were granted. Given the size of the U.’s service region and student interest, the class size should be 125 to 150, far larger than the 82 enrolled each of the last two years, trustees Chairman Clark Ivory told his colleagues.

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