New medical school attracts doctors

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The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine won’t welcome its first class of students until fall 2010, but the institution already is helping to draw physicians to the Roanoke region. Recently, three specialty practices moved into 1 Riverside Center, an office building on Carilion’s new Riverside campus, which currently houses Luna Innovations Inc., Carilion Pathology and the Virginia Tech Riverside Obesity Clinic.

Carilion spent $2.5 million modifying the third floor of the building for the practices, which specialize in dermatology, gynecology oncology and treatment of the ear, nose and throat. The physicians began seeing patients in late April.
Carilion’s transformation from a hospital-based system to a clinic means that it has to attract more physicians, says spokesman Eric Earnhardt. That is a difficult task in an era when physicians — and particularly specialists — are in short supply. Nonetheless, Carilion has managed to recruit 150 new physicians, and the planned medical school is a major draw.

“A case in point is our new dermatologist,” says Earnhardt. “She was very open about the fact that she came here because she wanted to be able to participate in the medical school as well as set up a practice. We’re hoping that it will continue to attract more physicians to Roanoke, in addition to, at some point, graduating physicians who will hopefully stay in the area and fill that need as well.”

In addition to 1 Riverside Center, the Riverside campus also will be home to Carilion Clinic’s outpatient facility (now under construction), and the 100,000-square-foot Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

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