The University of Minnesota and CentraCare are partnering to open the state’s first new medical campus in 50 years. This new medical campus will have a stronger focus on rural health.
Campus St. Cloud is proposed to have 20 to 24 students each year with expanded residency programs in areas such as mental health, pediatrics and general surgery. All these areas are affected by the lack of doctors in rural areas.
More: Effect of COVID on rural hospitals‘Our neighbors, our family members’: Small-town hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths
“Health care shortages in rural America are worse than in the metro area,” Dr. Ken Holmen, president and CEO of CentraCare.
According to a 2022 report from the Minnesota Department of Health, 1 in 5 rural health providers and 1 in 3 rural physicians said they plan to leave their profession in the next five years. The reason behind part of the projected decline is related to burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other occupations, a shortage was also expected due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation.
“Educating more students… in a rural setting results in more of them (medical students) staying in rural settings to have a job and raise a family.”
Additional information guiding this initiative includes the following from their website:
- While 20% of the US population lives in rural communities, only 11% of physicians practice in such areas.
- Rural Americans are at greater risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic respiratory disease, and stroke.
Encouraging more health care professionals to work in rural settings leads to expected economic improvements for rural communities.
“The economic impact on our commerce, whether it’s car companies, grocery stores or restaurants, is all part of the broader economic impact we provide to our communities,” Holmen said. “Let’s say we add 100 (medical) professionals in rural Minnesota every year. It doesn’t seem like a huge number. There are eight to 10 support people behind every professional you see.”
More: Rural health care shortageA private equity firm pledged to save rural hospitals. After receiving millions in pandemic aid, it closed its doors.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to deepen our existing relationship with CentraCare,” said Jakub Tolar, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for clinical affairs. “The School of Medicine is committed to working with every health system in the state that wants to educate more of our students and residents. CentraCare has been a partner for more than 20 years in educating physicians, pharmacists and, most recently, nurses. advanced practice.”
Tolar also added that in the past year, he has been working with CentraCare to address the need for more doctors and broader access to high-quality health care in Greater Minnesota.
“And based on the success of our programs in Duluth, we look forward to expanding our ability to provide excellent education and training opportunities with CentraCare to more future physicians.”