New legislation could grant more funding for UMN clinical training

The state Legislature may approve a number of clinical training grants worth up to $300,000 over three years.

The current layout of clinics within the Phillips-Wangensteen Building is not conducive for the workflow of physicians, residents and nurses. The University of Minnesota Medical School, the University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview will partner to fund a new site.

Daily File Photo

The current layout of clinics within the Phillips-Wangensteen Building is not conducive for the workflow of physicians, residents and nurses. The University of Minnesota Medical School, the University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview will partner to fund a new site.

Max Chao

Clinical medicine and University of Minnesota schools could see additional state funding if measures pass in the the Minnesota Legislature this session.

The Senate and House bills are aimed to quell a growing healthcare personnel shortage in Minnesota, especially among rural and aging populations. Funding could go toward expanding clinical training programs, recruiting students and cutting relocation costs some in University clinic systems say are prohibitive.

Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, and Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, authored the bills after a report revealed a the growing workforce shortage in the state.

The Senate’s Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy discussed Clausen’s bill Tuesday, where it was approved for consideration as part of the health and human services omnibus bill. Clausen said a more concrete omnibus will be released later this week.

Health worker shortages were well-documented in past legislative sessions, as well as the 2015 Legislative Health Care Commission report, Clausen, the commission’s co-chair, said.

The report found the shortage was exacerbated in rural areas, as positions in those areas are more difficult to fill.

The bills would address this in part by funding lodging and travel for students in these areas, said Connie Delaney, dean of the University’s School of Nursing.

“It gives students an opportunity to be part of the fabric of the community,” Delaney said.

The expansion of clinical programs could also fight the lack of clinical training opportunities, she said, which may get more professionals out and practicing.

Clausen called the lack of clinics a “major bottleneck” for training.

“These bills speak directly to a very severe issue that we’re experiencing at the University of Minnesota as are all other health workforce related programs within the state,” Delaney said.

The University’s Medical School would be eligible to apply for funds, along with others like the nursing, dentistry and pharmacy schools.

The School of Dentistry plans to use funds to support its Mobile Dental Clinic, a bus that travels across Minnesota giving dental services to residents and clinical experience to students.

“It’s a win-win clinic for our students and communities across Minnesota,” said Sheila Riggs, chair of the dentistry school’s Department of Primary Care.

The Clinic currently runs on a grant which will expire in August and needs more funding to stay active, Riggs said.

“[These] will be incredibly critical dollars to keep this opportunity for our students and Minnesotans as a viable possibility moving forward,” she said.