Before Sherry Nykiel entered medical school at UC Davis, she was an urban public school teacher
with a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. As a teacher, she had an opportunity to interact and build
connections with her students something she found personally rewarding. So, it's not surprising
that she expected to build similar relationships with patients, senior students, residents and faculty
early in her medical school career.
However, Nykiel's first year as a medical student did not afford the same level of direct contact that
she had with her public school students. That's because first- and second-year students at UC Davis School
of Medicine take their core science classes some 25 miles away from UC Davis Medical Center, where they
complete clinical rotations in their third year.
"The first two years of medical school are already difficult because there is very little clinical
exposure," she explains. "Being so far away from the hospital made the clinical connection even
UC Davis School of Medicine will address this and other challenges when it opens the new 120,000-square-foot
Center for Education and F. William Blaisdell, M.D., Medical Library in Sacramento. The $40 million facility
which is under construction in the heart of the medical center campus will replace outdated
classrooms, nearly double the space for library services, and provide a central location where students,
faculty and research partners can collaborate and be immersed in the art and science of medicine.
"Students want and need to take advantage of opportunities for mentoring and learning
in the dynamic, clinical-research and patient-care environment," says Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor
for Human Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine.
Those benefits hit home with Nykiel, who graduates in June and enters her medical residency program at
Massachusetts General Hospital. "There is a wealth of educational opportunities at the medical center
daily, from Grand Rounds to noon conferences to opportunities in clinics and on the wards to interact
with faculty, residents and third- and fourth-year medical students," she says. "I think the
new education center will give students a greater diversity of learning venues of which to take advantage."
The education center will serve as a hub that celebrates life-long learning, fosters the development
of new and innovative teaching techniques, and enhances interaction and communication among students,
residents, faculty, researchers, technology partners and others in the medical field, Pomeroy says. It
will offer an environment that attracts the most qualified students and faculty, allowing the school to
achieve its mission of advancing the health of the community.
The school's current education buildings on the Davis campus were built in the mid-1970s. While many
laboratories have been renovated, the space for teaching doesn't reflect current trends in medical education
for small-group, interdisciplinary, active learning opportunities. The school will maintain its outstanding
research programs on both the Davis and medical center campuses, but will consolidate most of its training
programs into the new facility, enhancing a sense of community among students and faculty.
UC Davis campus and School of Medicine leaders, along with students, faculty and legislators, broke ground
on the building in February. The target completion date is set for September 2006. Though she will have
graduated by the time the center is complete, Nykiel says it will be a valuable resource for alumni. "I
think that the center will benefit me by continuing to attract top-rated students who will make excellent
colleagues in the future."