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Palm Coast Friday, Sep. 20, 2019 3 weeks ago

University of North Florida proposes Palm Coast nexus for healthcare education

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The UNF Medical Nexus, or UNF MedNEX, would train students in nursing, rehabilitation, counseling, nutrition, hard sciences, medical engineering and related fields.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The University of North Florida is proposing a new location in Palm Coast's Innovation District to train students in nursing, rehabilitation, counseling, nutrition, hard sciences, medical engineering and related fields.

"I think the value that higher education brings to a community in terms of investment, in terms of future educational opportunities, in terms of awareness, job force — if this concept is successful, I think it’s a great thing for the community."

— MATT MORTON, Palm Coast city manager

"UNF’s first connection outside Duval County and Jacksonville will be Palm Coast/Flagler County," a UNF 2020-2021 Legislative Budget Request document states. "A public-private partnership is in development with the City of Palm Coast, AdventHealth, Allete Energy, and Flagler County Schools."

The proposal, called the UNF Medical Nexus, or MedNEX, "represents a multi-county hub and spoke approach to meeting the needs of the medical community in the region currently served by UNF," according to the 20-page document. (View it HERE.)

"I think the value that higher education brings to a community in terms of investment, in terms of future educational opportunities, in terms of awareness, job force — if this concept is successful, I think it’s a great thing for the community," Palm Coast City Manager Matt Morton said. 

An infographic in UNF's 2020-2021 Legislative Budget Request shows a proposed UNF medical hub in Flagler County.

He emphasized that the proposal is preliminary: It would require the approval of the Board of Governors and the Legislature, then the governor, as well as the Palm Coast City Council. An exact location has not yet been determined.

"It’s got a long process in public, both for UNF and the Legislature, as well as ... a long process here," he said.

City Council members have already been briefed on the proposal. One central aspect, Morton said, would build on the current nursing programs at UNF and DSC, and integrate them with AdventHealth so students could do clinical rotations through the hospital.

"We’re viewing it in terms of a true P3, public-private partnership," he said. 

There's also the possibility of coordinating with the Flagler County School District's medical Flagship programs, he said. 

For high school students, the proposed MedNEX location would "provide dual-enrollment courses and focus on automatic admits into specific health fields for high school students who meet admission thresholds," according to the 2020-2021 Legislative Budget Request document.

The predicted average salary of many of the healthcare fields that MedNEX would train for, according to the document, is $75,974.

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