SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Keeping local graduates here in the Ozarks is the goal of Missouri State University’s health and human services programs. 

Cox Hospital says it relies on local graduates to fill open positions, as many healthcare workers are retiring. 

MSU says having upgraded spaces for nursing students not only helps keep them in their program but potentially in the area. 

“The vast majority of our workforce is local and comes out of our local institutions. when you have people that understand the region and the heritage that we have once they’re immersed in that they don’t want to leave And so I think for us that that’s a big win,” says CoxHealth Vice President Human Resources Andrew Hedgpeth.

CoxHealth says the hospital has been able to fight a nursing shortage because several local colleges have several healthcare graduates. 

Cox says another reason many graduates choose to stay locally is because of the clinical they do. 

Students at MSU take clinicals at both Mercy and Cox, which means they are already immersed in the healthcare systems in town. With the updated Anne Kampeter building, students also have access to more study rooms. 

The university says the improvements are all to help grow student learning, so they are prepared to head out into the real world. 

“I will work in the NIC-U (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) here in Springfield at Mercy Hospital after graduation. I’m in my final semester of nursing school and I’m very excited to be at the end of this journey, but also still to be able to support Missouri State,” says MSU nursing student Kaelyn Springfield.

MSU admits nursing students twice a school year, allowing over 110 nursing graduates to potentially go back into the community.