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New Joplin medical school is partly all about location, location - KOAM TV 7

New Joplin medical school is partly all about location, location, location

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Joplin, MO -

Health and education workers from both Joplin and Kansas City help break ground today for a new medical school.  The school will be part of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

Construction will begin next week on this new medical school.  Kansas City University officials are promising this Joplin school will be innovative.  The school will be unlike that of many other schools, primarily because of its location.

The new school will be inside the old makeshift Mercy Hospital, built shortly after the Joplin tornado after the original Mercy Hospital was destroyed.

Hopes are this building, vacant right now, helps fill a big void.

"There are estimates of somewhere between 60 and 80 physicians short in the primary care fields," says Bruce Dubin, dean of the Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dubin ensures future doctors are knowledgeable.  Paula Baker, CEO of Freeman Health System, hires those new doctors.

"It can be difficult to recruit physicians to more rural areas," says Baker.

"Physicians have more of a likelihood of staying and practicing in an area where they've trained," says Dubin.

KCU's medical school says 50 percent of all physicians practice within 75 miles of where they completed their residency.

"But there hasn't been, historically, a lot of training in rural areas," says Dubin.

That will change, come KCU Joplin's first scheduled class in April of next year.  Classes will start out with 150 students, growing to 600 students.

"Those folks will bond with the community.  They'll stay in the community and help bring more primary care, and specialty care for that matter, too to the communities," says Dubin.

"It'll also help in the rural areas that surround Joplin," says Baker.  "Some of those smaller communities have a much more difficult time even than we do in Joplin."

So that's one aspect of how this new medical school will help the Four State area, backed by numbers.  But school officials know that the true measure of success will be the school's first graduating class of 2021.

"This school will make a superb name for itself, as will Joplin," says Dubin.

Officials say it'll take 13 months of construction to finish this project.  There will be a new 200-seat lecture hall that will double as a community storm shelter.

Officials hope the Joplin school receives its accreditation in June, so that the school can begin accepting student applications a short time later.

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