Rocky Vista University

New Medical School is Utah’s Second

Breanna Olaveson | Photos by Frank Ooms Jan 11, 2018

The University of Utah School of Medicine was the state’s only medical school when it was founded in 1905. Last summer, Utah’s second medical school opened in Ivins, Utah.

Rocky Vista University, first opened in Colorado in 2008, offers degrees in osteopathic medicine. As an independent, privately funded for-profit organization, it does not receive state or local tax support. But it has received a warm welcome from the community.

“The support we’ve received from the Ivins and St. George community — the whole Southern Utah region — has been overwhelming,” says Julie Rosenthal, executive director of enrollment management, marketing and external relations at Rocky Vista University. “We had a community open house and more than 1,000 people came to see the school, take tours, meet the students, and learn about the medical school that opened in their community.”

A New Campus

The new Rocky Vista University campus sits on 30 acres at the intersection of Center Street and 200 East in Ivins. The two-story, 104,000 square-foot building includes two 200-seat lecture halls, three seminar rooms, 36 study rooms, several labs, a simulation center, patient rooms and a library. A medical building across the street houses administration offices and is the future site of a clinic for training students.

School building set among red hills at sunset

A New State

The Utah campus fulfills the lifelong dream of Dr. Thomas Told, chief academic officer and dean of Rocky Vista University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Reared in rural Wayne County, Utah, Told noticed that few physicians ever traveled to his community. He dreamed of opening a medical school in Utah one day. When he grew up and became a doctor of osteopathic medicine — which he had to leave the state to do — he never forgot his dream. Meanwhile, Utah became one of the fastest-growing states in the country with a major physician shortage.

Told and others from RVU began preparations to open a Utah location in 2012, and Told’s lifelong dream became a reality in 2017.

“We had a lot of students from Utah in our Colorado location,” Rosenthal says. “We thought it was about time that Utah had another medical school.”

A New Group of Students

The first graduating class for RVUCOM’s Southern Utah location matriculated in 2017. Rosenthal says that even though RVU is new, the caliber of students who applied is impressive.

“In addition to being academically strong, our students were selected for their strong leadership and service backgrounds,” Rosenthal says. “They are ‘people people.’ We want them to stay in the Mountain West and serve the state.”

More than 2,000 students applied to become part of the RVU class of 2021, and 135 — 6.5 percent — were accepted. Those accepted came from 24 states, with Utah as the top feeder state with 74 students. Nineteen percent came from Brigham Young University; 10 percent from the University of Utah; and 15 percent from Southern Utah University or Utah State University.

“It was very encouraging to see such a great pool of applicants,” Rosenthal says. “Their academic background, clinical preparedness and personal qualities are very strong — they will certainly be a credit to the medical profession and the future patients they will serve.”

Members of the community are invited to tour the Ivins campus or to attend an open house. Dates are posted on the university’s website,

Students walking in hallways of a school building
Students sitting in a large college lecture room
Outside view of building set next to red mountain


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