A $1 million gift will help McPherson College fund a new community health care initiative, including ten $25,000 scholarships for students committed to community health. Introduced last month in partnership with McPherson Hospital, the initiative features a new enhanced health science degree at the college paired with a wide variety of hands-on educational opportunities developed through the hospital and opportunities for community outreach programs.

“This is an ambitious project with a goal of improving health in our community and becoming a new model for rural health across the state,” McPherson College President Michael Schneider said. “The gift enables us to move forward with the academic aspects of the initiative as well as community outreach opportunities that will provide hands-on experience for student discernment and much-needed services for our community. Although the donor wishes to remain anonymous, the donor is a long-time supporter of McPherson College and advocate of health care initiatives that support our youth, older adults and those who struggle with mental health challenges.”

The new health care programs are focused on creating health-related career pathways for students while engaging them in the community. Every student will participate in multiple field experiences or rotations, and McPherson Health Science Scholars will be matched with signature outreach being developed to solve issues in the community. In addition, a needs capacity survey of all the health-related opportunities available for students will be distributed to understand the broad health care needs in McPherson and the surrounding area.

“Having practiced medicine in a rural community for more than 25 years, I am excited for the opportunities this program will afford not only the students but the communities impacted by their service,” U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall said. “I applaud McPherson College, and its supporters, for identifying and reacting to the need for qualified health care professionals.”

Kansas is among states with the highest numbers of rural hospitals and greatest shortage of health care professionals of all types, according to the National Rural Health Association. Additionally, according to the Kansas Hospital Association, more than 25 percent of the state’s population lives in rural areas.

“We are looking at this from a holistic approach to health care in rural communities,” President Schneider said. “This initiative is considering everything from mentoring youth to supporting our elderly citizens. It also includes solving our challenges to provide good mental health support and treatment for all. It puts our students in the community working with support from McPherson Hospital to solve our biggest challenges.”

The curriculum for the new degree will begin in the fall of 2020. The degree is designed for students who want to study in the field of health science (allied health) and healthcare management with tracks in community and public health, and social and behavioral science while participating in outstanding field experiences, which allow them to give back to the community. For more information about the community health degree, please contact McPherson College admissions at admiss@mcpherson.edu.