Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Excellence in Minnesota health care deserves legislative support

Vital investments in delivering quality health care across Minnesota are high on the U of M’s legislative request list. 

The University of Minnesota graduates 70 percent of our state’s health care professionals. These alumni provide high-quality care in communities across the state. But as our population ages and our needs change, health care education must change as well. The university is poised to meet the challenge, but requires support from the Minnesota Legislature to reach its fullest potential in preparing our state’s health care workforce.

Photo by Patrick O’Leary
Dean E. Johnson

Vital investments in delivering quality health care across Minnesota are high on the U’s legislative request list. These initiatives deserve support.

Replacing outdated and obsolete buildings with a new Health Science Education Facility means students will be better able to work in clinical team-based spaces. We know that clinical teams – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and other health professionals coming together to achieve patient success – provide the best care. We must train our students to be ready for this environment.

Patricia Simmons

The new facility will be equipped with simulation areas to practice clinical and procedural skills in real-world settings. Classroom technology will allow students to connect with and learn from practitioners, fellow students, patients and communities from across the state and beyond. The facility will allow us to be a leader in interprofessional training and will help position the U to recruit and retain top students and faculty.

The university’s supplemental budget request also includes two investments to enhance and maintain critical health care needs:

The university is requesting state dollars to restore funding for programs formerly supported financially by UCare. UCare did not receive a state contract for Medicaid and other public programs and is no longer able to help fund family practice medicine at the university. The loss of $10.5 million places the university’s statewide clinical training, education, research and patient care at risk.  

With renewed funding from the state to replace those lost UCare dollars, the U will be able to continue work to meet family medicine needs in Duluth, Mankato and across the Twin Cities. Additionally, the School of Dentistry’s Mobile Dental Clinic can remain on the move to communities without access to care, providing much-needed preventive and primary dental care.

Article continues after advertisement

To further improve access to quality health care, we are seeking support for the Community University Health Care Clinic in Minneapolis. The clinic provides urban community health care for diverse populations and educates more than 230 Academic Health Center students and residents per year. The Rural Dentist Associate Program – which supports dentistry training sites in underserved communities across the state – is also in need of additional funds.

As Regents, we urge the Minnesota Legislature to make health care a priority this session. Investing in the U’s health enterprise will ensure our state is able to continue meeting Minnesotans’ health care needs.

Dean E. Johnson is the chair and Patricia Simmons is a member of the Board of Regents, University of Minnesota.


If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at