The University of Nebraska at Kearney and the Nebraska Medical Center are partnering up for a brand new project dedicated to improving healthcare in Nebraska. Early Tuesday afternoon, officials broke ground for the Rural Health Education building on UNK’s campus. Out of Nebraska’s 93 counties, 90 of them are facing a healthcare worker shortage. However this new project will help combat this trend.
The facility is set to be finished by 2025‚ but won’t be fully operational until 2026. Currently at UNK one in five students who are admitted to the college are interested in the medical field and the new complex will help increase growth in the state’s workforce.
UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen says this has been in the works since 2014 and couldn’t have done it without community support. “The City is a very welcoming partner and that shows, they put money into this project because they believe in it,” Kristensen said. “The City of Kearney is very progressive. It starts there and then the private donations come in, they wouldn’t have to invest money in rural Nebraska. They see the benefit of it and see us working together.”
Years from now, Christensen said it is going to be a reminder of a positive trend in the healthcare shortage. “It really is a workforce development and it will keep communities vibrant, alive,” Christensen said. “You can do without your post office ‚but you can’t do without medical care.”
Once the project is finished, it will allow students to attend class on-campus at UNK and be presented with expanded classes and program offerings. Nebraska System President, Ted Carter, says he wanted to make sure this plan panned out before leaving for Ohio State University.
“I told the board of trustees at the Ohio State University that I wasn’t interested in the job unless I could fulfill some promises to the board, to the people of Nebraska,” Carter said. “This is one of them, getting our internal enrollment and budget challenges corrected, delivering on that five-point plan that I have outlined.”