ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The plan to create a new medical school with a focus on rural healthcare continues to move forward.

Ken Holmen is the CEO and President at CentraCare. He says they have selected the Administrative Services Building next to the Plaza Building to be the home of the new school.

Which is where much of our ambulatory care is provided for the greater St. Cloud region and CentraCare.  We actually have more investments planned in the plaza to support our ambulatory care platform.

Holmen says that the building has been basically empty since the pandemic began with more administrative people working from home.

The school has also received a total of $15 million from the Minnesota State Legislature in the recent session. $5 million is specific to the building renovation.  $10 million is to fund the programming, scholarships, etc… (the original ask from the legislature was $72 million).

CentraCare will be asking for an additional $13 million in bonding money in the next session to finish the building renovation.

Holmen says funding for the first new medical school in Minnesota in 50 years will come from state and federal money, CentraCare, and the CentraCare Foundation which is in charge of the capital campaign.


It's a partnership between the University of Minnesota and CentraCare. Holmen says each of the university's campuses in Duluth, the Twin Cities, and soon in St. Cloud will have their own unique specialties.

The flavor of the CentraCare program will be those folks who really have an interest in rural healthcare.  We know from past experience, and the data we collected, folks that train in a rural environment are much more likely and encouraged to stay in rural areas.

Holmen says the St. Cloud campus will enroll between 20 and 24 students each year, so after four years they'll have between 80 and 96 students at one time.

Holmen says the students will get hands-on experience working in small-town hospitals.

We also anticipate having rotations in some of our more out-state rural facilities.  That's what we're trying to get folks interested in rural healthcare.  I expect that we'll have students not only in CentraCare's more rural facilities but also neighboring facilities not associated with CentraCare.

Preliminary approval was given by the U of M Board of Regents and the CentraCare Board, but Holmen says they will go to both boards again in October for final approval.

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