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UNF creates the nation’s first MedNexus; $6 Million in funding from Florida state budget

Darvin Nelson, Features Editor

UNF has created the nation’s first MedNexus, a “university-based medical and healthcare nexus.” The University sent out an email announcing the creation, which was approved $6 million in funding by the Florida Legislature and Governor Desantis on June 29: 

“UNF MedNexus will be the nation’s first comprehensive, university-based medical and healthcare nexus, further placing UNF at the center of the Northeast Florida healthcare enterprise by connecting healthcare providers with University students, faculty and researchers.”

UNF MedNexus is planning to partner with many of the region’s top healthcare providers, including Brooks Health, AdventHealth of Palm Coast, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Hospital, Ascension St. Vincent’s, Baptist Health, University of Florida Health, and Flagler Hospital. As it expands, UNF MedNexus also looks forward to partnering with universities in the State University System of Florida and other healthcare providers across the state. With these partners and community support, UNF will develop unique experiential learning opportunities through immersion in existing health facilities, classes taught by experienced healthcare professionals, and innovative research.

As part of UNF MedNexus, the University will build a new healthcare simulation lab, as well as a state-of-the-art medical technology innovation lab in Jacksonville. The medical technology lab will house specialized equipment, including a suite of Shimadzu molecular analyzers, which will be used by research hospitals in the state (Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Children’s St. Petersburg, Baptist MD Anderson) to develop hyper early diagnostics for diseases such as cancers and neurological disorders.

UNF MedNexus partners will also include regional colleges such as Florida State College at Jacksonville, St. Johns River State College, and Daytona State College, as well as local secondary school systems that will be working together to develop unique career pathways from high school through to job placement.

Through an innovative partnership with the City of Palm Coast, AdventHealth of Palm Coast, and Allete Energy, MedNexus will also extend UNF’s nursing programs and partner on a second simulation lab in Palm Coast. UNF MedNexus plans to begin offering courses to the first Palm Coast cohort in January 2021.

‘UNF MedNexus will become a leader and catalyst in preparing high-quality healthcare professionals in Northeast Florida in a way that is innovative and uniquely UNF,’ said UNF President David Szymanski. ‘We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Governor DeSantis, the Florida State Legislature, state leadership, and all of our partners for their support of MedNexus.’

Healthcare jobs are expected to account for 23% of the state’s growth between 2016 and 2024, with an estimated 200,000 new jobs to be created during this period. The increased demand for healthcare professionals in the region, contrasted with the declining population of 18- to 21-year olds nationally, will create a shortage of college graduates in health fields without new and innovative initiatives, such as MedNexus.

Information regarding the site locations and detailed timelines are being worked through with MedNexus partners. UNF will provide more information as it becomes available.”

The UNF MedNexus is set to expand healthcare programs and help prepare more healthcare professionals in Northeast Florida. The Nexus will allow the University to build new labs and connect numerous healthcare providers and medical establishments with UNF students, faculty, and researchers. 

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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