The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Construction ongoing for recently-accredited medical school at Belmont University

The Thomas Frist, Jr. College of Medicine is the sixth medical school to be established in Tennessee.
Charlotte White
The Thomas Frist, Jr. College of Medicine under construction, as captured on Dec. 1, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Charlotte White)

The Thomas F. Frist, Jr. College of Medicine (FCoM) at Belmont University, initially announced in Oct. 2020, became Nashville’s newest medical school after it its accrediting body, the National Liaison Committee on Medical Education, granted it preliminary accreditation on Oct. 11. 

The college was named in honor of Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr. (BA ‘61) — the co-founder of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA Healthcare), a pioneer of U.S. healthcare privatization. Frist was the recipient of Vanderbilt’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002 and served as vice president of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust from 1995-97.

Applications opened in early November for the inaugural class of 50 students, who will matriculate in July 2024. FCoM Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity Karen Lewis said the medical school will be partnering with the HCA TriStar hospitals in Brentwood, Tenn., for clinical training and rotations. HCA was originally founded in Nashville in 1968. 

“A whole-person approach to healing will be one of the hallmarks of an FCoM education,” Lewis said. “We are committed to whole-person formation of our students as a part of training future physicians to view their patients in the same way — to go beyond just the diagnosis and treatment of disease to connection with the whole-person being of patients, their families and communities.”

Although applications have opened for the inaugural class, FCoM’s building is still undergoing construction, slated for completion in Spring 2024. The college will reside in a six-story, 246,000-square-foot facility with a 50,000-square-foot simulation center with virtual and augmented reality teaching technology. This building will also be home to the Tennessee Healthcare Hall of Fame. 

FCoM is the third medical school in Nashville and the sixth in Tennessee to be established. Tennessee is home to five M.D. schools, including Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and one D.O. school. 

“It is very exciting to have a third medical school in Nashville. More than anything, it makes very visible to our students the unique mission that medical schools have, because VUSM, Belmont and Meharry are all very different,” Vanderbilt Health Professions Advisory Office adviser Dr. Michelle Grundy said. “This diversity of options right here in our own hometown provides opportunity for collaboration which also helps our students to think critically about what their own purpose is for pursuing a medical degree.”

According to Lewis, Tennessee’s physician shortage also influenced the decision to establish another medical school in Nashville. Both in Tennessee and nationally, the demand for physicians is greater than the available supply. The National Institutes of Health predicts that Tennessee will be short 5,989 physicians by 2030, and the U.S. will be short 122,000 physicians by 2032. 

“The primary goal of programs like [Belmont’s] is to provide outstanding clinical training to address the shortage of physicians in this country and to diversify the healthcare workforce,” Grundy said. “I am thrilled to see an excellent institution like Belmont University working to address this gap.”

Junior Lauren Link said she is considering applying to FCoM during the next application cycle. Aa a Nashville native, she said she is excited to see a third medical school come to the city but also acknowledges the potential downfalls of being one of the first classes at a medical school. She said she worries about not being able to talk to school alumni to determine if the school is right for her. 

“I have some reservations but am definitely considering it,” Link said. “I [am] a little apprehensive as to the ins and outs of the med school.”

Senior Sonia Srikanth is applying to medical school this cycle. While she did not apply to FCoM, she thinks that having a new medical school in Nashville is a unique opportunity for Vanderbilt undergraduate students looking to attend medical school. 

“I think it’s wonderful to have another medical school in Nashville, and this expands the opportunities pre-medical students have to follow their passions and pursue their dreams of attending medical school,” Srikanth said. “Because the medical school just opened, this presents a unique opportunity for students to bring innovation and leadership to the school.”

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About the Contributors
Salma Elhandaoui
Salma Elhandaoui, Staff Writer and Photographer
Salma Elhandaoui (‘27) is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and is majoring in neuroscience and medicine, health and society and minoring in environmental and sustainability studies in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her playing the guitar, writing endless poems, curating strange Spotify playlists and exploring the virtual world. She can be reached at [email protected].
Rhea Patney
Rhea Patney, Managing Editor
Rhea Patney (‘26) is majoring in medicine, health and society and communication of science and technology on the pre-med track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from St. Louis and previously served as Deputy Data Director. When not writing for The Hustler, Rhea loves reading, starting new TV shows and struggling to finish them, playing sports and watching sunsets with her friends. She can be reached at [email protected].
Charlotte White
Charlotte White, Staff Photographer
Charlotte White (‘26) is from Los Angeles, and is majoring in medicine, health and society and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of class, she loves to read, watch movies or do anything outside. They can be reached at [email protected].
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