MU School of Medicine, CoxHealth, Mercy Springfield Open Center to Train More Doctors for Missouri

Exterior photo of the Patient-Centered Care Learning Center at the MU School of Medicine.
Exterior photo of the Patient-Centered Care Learning Center at the MU School of Medicine.

The University of Missouri School of Medicine, along with CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield, celebrated the official opening of a new $42.5 million medical education center today.

The unique public-private partnership between MU and the Springfield health systems is designed to address a critical shortage of physicians in the state and nation.

“Today’s dedication ceremony marks the fulfillment of a vision shared by MU, CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield that began eight years ago when the three organizations started working together to train more physicians to work in Missouri and beyond,” said UM System President Mun Choi.

Through the partnership, the MU School of Medicine was able to expand its class size from 96 to 128 students and open an additional clinical campus in Springfield where medical students began training in 2016.

“Uniting our organizations to develop a second clinical campus in Springfield, Missouri, was by far the best way to expand health care and medical education in the communities we serve,” said Patrick Delafontaine, MD, the Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean of the MU School of Medicine. “This expansion of the MU School of Medicine will allow us to attract great students from Missouri to attend medical school and then stay and work in Missouri as physicians.”

The Patient-Centered Care Learning Center is a $42.5 million, six-story, 98,888-square-foot education building. The first class to start in the Patient-Centered Care Learning Center will graduate from the MU School of Medicine in May 2021.

“The vision for the building was to create a learning space that reflects our goal of educating physicians to provide effective patient-centered care for the people of Missouri and beyond,” said Weldon Webb, associate dean for the Springfield Clinical Campus implementation at MU. “That is why the building is called the ‘Patient-Centered Care Learning Center.’ This new learning environment will explicitly focus the students’ attention on the people they are preparing to serve.”

Webb said that on the fifth and sixth floors of the building, where medical students will spend 10 to 12 hours of their day, there are artistic overlays on glass doors that feature real Missourians who represent the diversity of patients served by Missouri-trained physicians. Resembling etched glass, the 32 images and their individual stories are the works of professional photojournalists of the Missouri Photo Workshop, a Missouri School of Journalism endeavor spanning six decades.

More than 90 percent of Missouri’s counties lack adequate access to health care professionals. At the same time, Missouri ranks among the top 20 states with residents older than age 65, who require more medical care. The number of elderly people with multiple chronic diseases likely will double by 2030.

“Partnering with MU, CoxHealth and Mercy for this project is another example of like-minded organizations working together to do what’s right for patients in the future,” said David Barbe, MD, president of the American Medical Association, alumnus of the MU School of Medicine and vice president of regional operations for Mercy Springfield.

“By giving students more options for clinical training in other hospitals and physician practices, we are educating them on the diverse health needs of our state and increasing the odds of putting more physicians in Springfield and southwest Missouri,” Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth.

Overall, the MU medical school expansion will provide more than 300 additional physicians for Missouri, add more than $390 million annually to the state’s economy and create 3,500 new jobs.