Curt Carlson
Vice Chancellor for University Relations, 308.865.8529

$15 million authorization important step toward a new allied health and nursing building at UNK and innovative partnership with UNMC.

Gov. Dave Heineman’s signature on the budget package Monday authorized $15 million in funding for an addition to Bruner Hall of Science that will serve as a nursing and allied health training facility at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

UNK and the University of Nebraska Medical Center are coming together in an unprecedented fashion to address the widely documented shortage of healthcare workers in rural Nebraska. UNK is immediately launching a campaign to raise $4 million in private matching dollars to complete funding requirements.

“This is an opportunity to positively impact Nebraska citizens,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “The reality is we need to raise private dollars quickly, so we don’t miss this chance to improve healthcare in rural Nebraska forgenerations to come.”

UNK’s planned addition to Bruner Hall of Science will allow the UNMC College of Nursing-Kearney Division to significantly increase student capacity. The new facility will also enable the UNMC School of Allied Health Professions to offer five of its allied health professional programs at UNK. Included in the 30,000 square foot Bruner Hall addition will be a clinical simulation laboratory, anatomy and physiology laboratories, and technology for state-of-the-art distance education, all dedicated to nursing and allied health programs.

Enrollment in UNK’s allied health pre-professional programs has more than doubled in the past 10 years to 700 students. Currently, students must transfer to Omaha or elsewhere to obtain their professional degrees.

Dean of the School of Allied Health Professions at UNMC, Kyle Meyer said, “This initiative formally extends that partnership to UNK to allow students dedicated to providing healthcare in rural Nebraska the opportunity to complete UNMC’s high quality health profession education programs without the necessity of relocating to Omaha.

“The School of Allied Health Professions at UNMC is proud to be a part of this innovative partnership with the UNMC College of Nursing and UNK,” he said. “I want to thank President Milliken for his leadership in putting forth the ‘Building a Healthier Nebraska Initiative,’ and thank the governor and Sen. Hadley and his colleagues for their tremendous investment in the future of healthcare in Nebraska.”

In 2011, nearly one-half of the qualified applicants to the School of Nursing were turned away due to lack of capacity in present facilities. The annual enrollment of 40 will double by year three of the new building addition.

Dean Juliann Sebastian of the UNMC School of Nursing said, “Expanding the size of the (Kearney) facility, and thereby having the space to expand our program, gives us in the College of Nursing the opportunity to educate more nursing students, to educate more students at the graduate level who can serve as primary care nurse practitioners, so we can directly affect this problem (of healthcare workershortages) that we have today in Nebraska.”

The economic impact of the project in Kearney and rural Nebraska is also significant. A healthcare workforce is key to the economic viability of smaller communities. It will create well-paying jobs, expand the healthcare work force, and enhance the ability of Nebraska’s rural communities to recruit and retain professionals of all kinds by offering high quality healthcare services in local communities.