In June 2006, the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a call to arms in the medical field.
“There’s a physician shortage in Missouri, and … the Association of American Colleges call(ed) upon all medical schools to increase class size by about 30 percent,” said Mary Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the School of Medicine. “It’s an ongoing need.”
The AAMC’s recommended deadline is 2015 in order to overcome the projected shortage of physicians.
On Sept. 9, MU answered the call.
Chancellor Brady Deaton signed a resolution with the Missouri State University President Clif Smart with aims to battle the state’s looming projections.
The resolution says the two universities will collaborate to expand their medical schools and facilities. CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield, two local hospitals, will provide support to the project with its Rural Track Pipeline Program, which provides opportunities for students to work in rural communities.
Missouri’s aging population and the fact that more than 90 percent of its counties are medically underserved creates a dangerous combination that needs to be remedied, according to a School of Medicine news release.
“It really goes back to a partnership that the MU School of Medicine, CoxHealth and Mercy in Springfield have had since 2005,” Jenkins said. “Since 2005, those Springfield health systems have worked with the School of Medicine as part of our Rural Track Pipeline Program.”
The pipeline program has been in place since 1994.
MU plans to build a clinical campus in Springfield, Mo., where medical students can study and practice medicine. Students will benefit from the additional space, as MU would accept more applicants into its School of Medicine, where about 96 of 1500 applicants are admitted each year.
MSU will also create an occupational therapy program at its campus.
MU will build a $32.7 million medical education building on campus, according to the School of Medicine news release.
MU’s costs will be beneficial in the future, as it projects that the expansion will create 3,500 jobs and pump $390 million into the state’s economy each year. By adding these jobs, Missouri is making a strategic investment in its economic future, said Amy Susan, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
“By opening the door for more Missourians to either earn a degree in the medical field or participate in health care training, we are not only improving our state's healthcare system, we are strengthening our economy,” Susan said in an email.
As the project grows, buildings will be created, which will provide jobs for construction companies. Once the buildings are set, they will need assistants, clerks, custodians and an array of various other occupations, all of which will grow along with time.
“There’s a multiplier effect of spending,” said Reed Olsen, a professor of health and economics at MSU. “It’ll be bigger if the investment gets bigger, (and) all that has a positive effect on the local economy.”
The multiplier effect says how much the economy will benefit with regard to how much money is spent in the project. The more money that goes into it, Olsen said, the more that comes out, aiding both Missouri’s health and economic crises.
“We’re looking at about four to five years, if it’s successful, to reach its full impact,” Olsen said. “I think, in general, it’s a good investment, without a doubt.”