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Medical Education Expansion would Enhance Economy, Create Jobs

Clinical campus supporters announce economic impact and investment figures.

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A plan to improve health by expanding medical education in Southwest Missouri would add more than $390 million annually to the state's economy and create 3,500 new jobs. The economic growth figures were unveiled today at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce by supporters of establishing the city's first medical school clinical campus.

CoxHealth and Mercy health systems in Springfield and the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia are designing the campus to expand MU's medical student class size and meet the need for more physicians. More than 90 percent of Missouri counties lack adequate access to health care professionals. Missouri also ranks among the top 20 states in terms of the number of people 65 and older who will require more medical care as they age. While the number of elderly is expected to double by 2030, the number of physicians who care for aging patients with chronic illnesses is expected to decline.

"Mercy, CoxHealth and MU are ideal partners for improving health by expanding access to high quality medical education," said Robert Churchill, MD, the school's Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean. "More Missouri physicians received their medical degree from MU than from any other university, which is due in part to MU's medical education partnerships with outstanding health systems in Springfield and other communities."

MU's School of Medicine, Mercy and CoxHealth already have a strong record of collaborating to educate physicians. Since 2005, more than 85 MU medical students have received training at Southwest Missouri health facilities through the MU School of Medicine rural track program. The program encourages physicians to complete part of their clinical education in underserved areas and to then practice in Missouri.

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