COLUMBIA — MU could receive about $9 million per year from the Caring for Missourians initiative, one of Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposals to expand and enhance health profession education across the state.
The funds would be used to hire more faculty and support staff, and to acquire technology and supplies, said Kristofer Hagglund, associate dean in the MU School of Health Professions. Classroom and laboratory renovations could also take place on a small scale, he added.
“The entire proposal is about increasing the capacity of our health professions program,” Hagglund said.
The annual budget increase would provide MU with the resources to educate an additional 81 students a year, Nixon said at a news conference Thursday at the Sinclair School of Nursing. He introduced the program Tuesday in his State of the State address.
The Caring for Missourians initiative would put $39.8 million into health professional education across the state, Nixon said. The program would put an additional 916 health care professionals into the workforce in the next four years.
MU would receive about 23 percent of the total program funding, which still needs legislative approval.
At MU, the schools of medicine, nursing and health professions would all receive money for health care, including physical therapy, nursing, dentistry and medical technology.
“Across the board, we will have the capacity to expand,” Nixon said Thursday.
Hagglund, who worked on the initiative from the MU end, said the program would address the critical issue of rural health care.
Missouri's rural areas, especially, are seeing a shortage in health care professionals, he said. Schools across the state would be able to recruit from their areas and send trained health-care professionals back into their communities.
The initiative also addresses the health of the state's population.
“Healthy people will be more productive,” Hagglund said. “It is a tremendous advantage to keep our population healthy, and this is the best way to do that."
Nixon said the demand for skilled health professionals has been persistent in the state.
“Caring for Missourians invests our resources in a way that will put more Missourians to work,” the governor said.
Nursing student Dominique Laforgue said she appreciates the benefits of health-care education, given the shortage of professionals.
“You have a sense of feeling that you will have a job when you graduate,” said Laforgue, a fifth-semester student. “You don’t have to worry. You can focus on your education.”
Chancellor Brady Deaton reiterated the university’s excitement over additional resources that would allow the health professional schools to accept more students into their programs each year.
“We prepare students for the next century,” Deaton said Thursday. “You train people for the jobs of today. You educate people for the jobs of tomorrow.”