MSU Mankato and Mayo Clinic expand partnership to retain students, address workforce shortage

Published 4:22 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

By Hannah Yang, Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota State University, Mankato and Mayo Clinic Health System say they will be collaborating more to retain students and address workforce shortages in the region.

Leaders from both organizations say they met over the past year to refine the partnership, focusing on three strategic areas: education, research and health and wellbeing.

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Mayo’s Southwest Regional Vice President Dr. James Hebl said the collaboration brings more structure and purpose to future efforts.

“Just as we need to evolve to meet the needs of our patients within healthcare, higher education also needs to evolve to meet the needs of their students,” Hebl said. He described the collaboration as taking a more proactive approach.

The intent is to educate and train members of the future healthcare workforce, whether that’s people directly working with patients in nursing, physical and respiratory therapy, or indirect opportunities within healthcare such as finance or supply chain, communications or other areas.

Hebl described it as “developing a pipeline for those future needs.”

Training and research

This collaboration is also meant to enhance the university’s ability to do research in areas Mayo funds and extend the school’s community outreach into the greater Mankato area.

MSU Mankato President Edward Inch said this consolidates all the different efforts to enhance the student experience and help provide workers for Mayo.

The university trains about 185 nurses who enter the Mayo Clinic Health System each year, Inch said, and he believes that number can be larger.

He said it’s not limited to just medical students, but also those in other areas such as marketing and business.

“I think we can provide more opportunities for students than we have now and at the same time supporting Mayo’s mission, and helping them become even stronger than they are now,” Inch said.

“I think this is an important partnership that has the potential to really support the health of the region and the wellness of the region. I think that’s our opportunity moving forward in areas we haven’t even imagined yet.”

MSU Mankato Provost David Hood said the collaboration is providing $100,000 in investment seed money, half coming from each organization. He said the partners will determine how it is used, but could include an online hub for mental health resources, or community assessments such as the Greater Mankato Inclusivity Study to address equity gaps.

Hood said faculty members and Mayo staff are already reaching out to each other about possible research projects.

“It’s just confirmation that the work we did was the right work,” Hood said. “We have to continue to think about the future. It’s exhilarating. To see that they are so super engaged and they’re being challenged and they’re thinking boldly about what is possible.”