UND medical school seeks limited expansionOfficials from UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences spoke before an appropriations subcommittee at the Legislature Tuesday, but, oddly enough, what they asked for was less than what the subcommittee chairman actually wanted.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
Officials from UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences spoke before an appropriations subcommittee at the Legislature Tuesday, but, oddly enough, what they asked for was less than what the subcommittee chairman actually wanted.
Besides funding to continue operating as they have, officials sought an extra $1.8 million to train more health care workers in the higher education funding bill, HB 1003, Dean Joshua Wynne said.
This is significantly less than the $3.4 million training cost and the $28.9 million new building they’d originally wanted but is in line with what the State Board of Higher Education directed after the governor rebuffed efforts to get the new building, saying that was too much to ask in this session.
One person who doesn’t think it’s too much to ask is Rep. Bob Skarphol, R-Tioga, chairman of the House Appropriations Education and Environment Section. His bill, HB 1353, would give the medical school everything it wants, but would, in a controversial move, eliminate the state’s tobacco control and prevention program in the process.
HB 1353 won’t go before its committee, the Education Committee, until next Monday, however. So, there was no mention of it Tuesday in Skarphol’s subcommittee, Wynne said.
HB 1003, as it stands, has $46.7 million for the med school’s ongoing operations and $225,000 for electronic medical records for the school’s clinics.
Led by Wynne, medical school officials have been warning of a major shortage in the state’s health care work force. The supply of workers will not keep up with demand as the population ages. As few outsiders are willing to move to North Dakota, school officials believe “training our own” is the best remedy.
Originally, the school’s proposal was to add a $28.9 million building to make some room for new students. Then, for $3.4 million in the first biennium, it’d hire more faculty to teach 16 additional medical students and 30 additional health sciences students and fund 17 additional residency slots.
Residencies, a kind of apprenticeship for new medical school graduates, are key because doctors tend to stay in the city where they do their residency.
The school also proposed a $1.2 million master of public health program, which it would share with North Dakota State University, and a $1.2 million geriatrics program. Both these are included in HB 1003 at the request of the governor.
Because the governor
didn’t request the new building or the new faculty, the state board scaled back plans to make them more palatable. So, they’ll squeeze in a few more students without a new building at a cost of $1.8 million. This would train eight additional medical students, 15 additional health sciences students and nine additional residencies.
Wynne said the school would still want to ramp up to the original plan, but this scaled-back plan would allow it to start now instead of waiting another biennium.
Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.