116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — On the northern border of Cedar Rapids’ 55-square-block MedQuarter — packed with two major hospitals and more than 500 doctors, dentists and other providers — sits the Coe College campus, which now includes a center that helps students studying any major connect with the health care profession.
With just weeks of work left to go before the David and Janice McInally Center for Health & Society officially begins educating any students who are pursuing pre-health paths or who have health care-related interests, Coe on Thursday evening celebrated the $2.8 million project with a dedication.
“The Center for Health and Society has opportunities for any major to connect to the allied health fields,” Coe President David Hayes told The Gazette during the event. “And with that being such a major part of our society — 19 percent of our economy is health-based and health care-related — literally every Kohawk who wants to be a part of the health ecosystem, they can come to Coe and connect with all of our many partners here in the MedQuarter.”
Coe College — Cedar Rapids’ 171-year-old private liberal arts college offering 50 undergraduate degrees and 14 pre-professional programs — this fall is reporting a total enrollment of 1,266, its lowest in at least a decade and a 12 percent drop from its high of 1,436 in fall 2014.
Among its undergraduate majors are biology, chemistry, neuroscience, nursing and other related areas of study directly tied to health care pursuits. Among its pre-professional programs are pre-med, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-physician assistant, pre-podiatry, pre-public health, pre-dental, pre-athletic training and pre-music therapy.
“We think it'll be a very attractive opportunity for prospective Kohawks,” Hayes said of the center.
Among other things, the new facility includes dedicated space for a 3D anatomy and dissection table.
“(The center) creates dedicated advising, mentoring and preparation space for students pursuing clinical health care professions, as well as those interested in careers in other areas essential to the growing health care industry,” college officials told The Gazette in an emailed statement.
Coe paid for the $2.8 million project with private donations — including significant gifts from the Esther and Robert Armstrong Charitable Trust, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust and a $700,000 challenge grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation of Cedar Rapids.
The 10,342-square-foot project, which began one year ago in September 2021, included 3,671 square feet of renovated space and new construction totaling 6,671 square feet.
A national board of advisers guides the Coe center, fostering collaboration between local and national health care providers. Board members include Tanager Place Chief Executive Officer Okpara Rice; Mercy Medical Center President and CEO Tim Charles; and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s President and CEO Michelle Niermann.
That group and the center it oversees aim to position Coe as the “preferred liberal-arts choice for pre-health prospective students and helps expand health-related graduate outcomes with improved networks and advising.”
They also tout the center’s ability to provide students “points of entry into the health care industry,” a fast-growing field expected to add 2.6 million jobs by 2030, and forge relationships with businesses and professionals across the MedQuarter.
“Coe students will job shadow and intern with local health organizations, creating a potential pipeline of health employees for the area,” officials said, citing an existing nursing employment agreement with Mercy and St. Luke’s.
The center also facilitates guest lectures and public health events.
“Any major at Coe College could lead to a career related to health, caring, well-being or health care,” officials said.
Art majors, for instance, could learn medical illustration; religion majors could study the role spirituality plays in healing; and business majors could pursue health care administration, according to Coe.
In addition to its 10 pre-professional health care-related programs and more than 10 science and social science majors, Coe has a health and society studies minor.
“One of the goals of (the center) is to prepare students for traditional and non-traditional careers in health care,” officials said. “This could range from areas you’d typically think of such as doctors, nurses and dentists to medical writers, hospital administrators and medical technology development.”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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