It's been 46 years since the last medical school opened in the State of Missouri; but that changed today. A ribbon cutting and open house marked the opening of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences at Farber McIntire Campus in Joplin.
Officials hope the new school will help fill a growing void of physicians in rural areas. It's the seventh medical school to open in the state.
New student orientation is next month. KCUMB officials say there's been a lot of "behind the scenes" work to make sure all of these students, and families, feel welcome. The school teamed-up with a local realtor.
Future doctors have already contributed to the current local economy.
"This is definitely the most unique project that I've been a part of," says Joplin realtor Brit Hale.
Hale has been making sure students of the inaugural class at KCUMB Joplin have places to stay.
"A quarter of our students will be from the local region. That means they may be from Kansas City, they may be from Joplin," says Nicole Brown with KCUMB.
The rest of the students hail from 38 states and 12 countries.
"Probably the most common challenge students are facing are the ones who can't visit Joplin in person prior to starting school," says Hale. "So they are operating on some good faith, through myself and others, to find housing."
School starts the last week of July. Some students are still looking for a place to stay. Hale says this past weekend, a couple of investors bought four homes near KCUMB Joplin to rent to students.
"We haven't run into a situation where there's a shortage or a lack of housing. There's plenty of housing to be had right around the school, which has been very desirable for the students," says Hale.
One goal is for KCUMB students to choose Joplin for their residency, and eventual place of practice.
...benefiting the local economy and community as a whole.
"They'll be part of the fabric of our community. They'll be eating here. They'll be living here. And they get to see what a great community Joplin is," says Brown.
KCUMB is also offering support and mentoring groups for students and their families, further helping them feel like they have a place in Joplin.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas