Legislation brings needed health care training programs to Springfield

Posted by Maggie Kost on Jun 09, 2015

A group of University of Missouri medical students consider MU’s Clinical Campus in Springfield and visit the Chamber for a glimpse into what it would be like to live, work, play, and learn in our region.

Thanks to the $26 billion budget passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor last month, Springfield will receive $10 million for the University of Missouri School of Medicine class expansion and Springfield clinical campus as well as $1.3 million for occupational therapy and other related programs at Missouri State University.

The two programs are the result of a unique partnership between health care organizations CoxHealth and Mercy along with the state’s largest higher education institutions, Missouri State University and the University of Missouri. Through the partnership, these institutions are working to help alleviate the shortage of health care workers statewide.

“The single best way to advance economic development in our state is to have an educated and well-trained workforce,” Clif Smart, president of Missouri State University said. “These programs represent an important step toward achieving that goal by broadening the educational opportunities available in southwest Missouri.”

The recent allocation of funds will allow Missouri State to fully establish a two-year Master of Science in occupational therapy, which will enroll 48 students annually. Additionally, the university plans to increase the nursing program at its West Plains campus by an average of 15 students per year.

Both Missouri State and University of Missouri have already begun enrolling students, with the first occupational therapy student beginning classes at Missouri State this fall and University of Missouri clinical campus students set to arrive in June of 2016.

"We are celebrating a significant investment in improving health care, education and economic development,” University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe said. “The University of Missouri System is particularly proud of the investment in its public-private partnership with CoxHealth and Mercy health systems, which will expand medical student class size in Columbia and create a clinical campus in Springfield.  This project will provide more than 300 additional physicians for Missouri, add more than $390 million annually to the state's economy and create 3,500 new jobs."

When completed, the University of Missouri clinical campus will be the only medical school south of the I-44 corridor in Missouri, and is expected to have a significant impact on the region’s ability to attract and retain talented health care professionals.

“As we see first-hand with our family residency program at CoxHealth, medical students tend to practice where they grew up or where they attend school,” Steve Edwards, President and CEO of CoxHealth said. “By giving students more options for clinical training in other hospitals and clinics, we are increasing the odds of putting more physicians in Springfield and southwest Missouri and educating them on the diverse health needs of our state.”

More than 90 percent of Missouri’s counties lack adequate access to health care professionals. At the same time, Missouri ranks among the top 20 states with citizens over the age of 65 who will require more medical care, and the number of elderly people with multiple chronic diseases is expected to double by 2030.

More news coverage:

Associated Press: Support builds for new medical training campus in Springfield, Mo.
KRBK: Health Care Enhancements Coming to Springfield
KSMU: Local Education Leaders, Hospitals Celebrate Increased Access to Medical Education
KSPR: Business, school leaders celebrate state funds for medical training in Springfield
KY3: Business, school leaders celebrate state funds for medical training in Springfield
News-Leader: Springfield enters 'new dawn' of health care training

“The shortage of health care professionals in our state is a significant problem, but the efforts of the Governor and the state legislature are encouraging” Jay Guffey, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Mercy said. “Not only will these programs fill the shortage of health care professionals in our region and around the state, but more importantly they will provide greater access to quality health care for Missouri’s citizens.”

After years of advocating for the programs CoxHealth, Mercy, Missouri State University, University of Missouri and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce applauded the general assembly’s efforts in a press conference earlier this month.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the support of our entire local delegation and particular leadership from Representatives Scott Fitzpatrick and Lincoln Hough through their work on the House Select Budget Committee as well as Senators Kurt Schaefer and Mike Parson who sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Springfield Chamber President Matt Morrow said. “Their combined efforts show a strong commitment to job creation, and will begin to address the growing health care needs of our state.”When completed, the University of Missouri clinical campus will be the only medical school south of the I-44 corridor, and is expected to have a significant impact on the region’s ability to attract and retain talented health care professionals."

Tweet your thanks to our legislators for getting this across the finish line! 

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