Our Opinion: Joplin, Southern benefit from new med school

Thanks to Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Missouri Southern’s pre-med program is likely to receive an influx of students in the coming years. With the announcement that KCUMB will be opening a new medical school in Joplin come 2017, details surrounding Southern’s partnership program with the med school have also begun to surface.

The current partnership agreement states that students in Missouri Southern’s pre-med program can apply for admission to the new medical school upon the completion of their second year of undergraduate work. If accepted, these lucky students won’t even have to worry about taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

As if that weren’t appealing enough, the program will also allow students to forgo their senior year of undergraduate work and instead go straight into their first year of medical school. Upon the completion of their first year, students will then be able to transfer their med school credit back to Missouri Southern to obtain their bachelor’s degree — meaning these students will actually be one year ahead of the curb.

Additionally, as explained by Tia Strait, director of Southern’s health sciences department, the presence of a medical school in Joplin will actually help solve the lack of primary care physicians in the region.

“This program is going to be beneficial to provide care for our residents in the state and in the region,” said Strait. “Research shows that if you educate [med students] in a specific region, they typically will set up practice within a 50 mile radius.”

Once the medical school is up and running, it seems Southern and the overall Joplin community will both quickly experience the benefits it has to offer.