It was a busy Thursday morning for Gov. Mike Parson during his visit to Joplin.

After attending the ribbing-cutting ceremony for Casey’s General Stores’ $62 million distribution center, he zipped across town to tour Kansas City University’s medical school.

Making stops inside two classrooms, he spent a few minutes speaking to a handful of students, asking them their names and where they were from. The students told Parson that KCU was “very welcoming” and that the Joplin campus and its instructors made them all “feel like we are a part of a family.”

Parson, who admitted he’d taken his body and health for granted until he was forced to undergo open heart surgery in 2016, said he’s thankful for them for choosing the medical field as a profession.

“You all are pretty special people,” he told them. “I’d love for you all to stay in Missouri; we need good doctors and medical staff all over the state. What we can do to keep you here, we’ll sure try the best we can.

“We need to do a better job of making sure we get more health care workers into the workforce,” he said.

At one point during the tour, Parson stepped outside to view construction work on KCU’s $32.1 million College of Dental Medicine, which is being built alongside the College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Joplin KCU campus. The dental school is expected to open in 2023. Once fully enrolled, the college will have 320 students each year.

“I look for big things to come out of this university” in the years to come, Parson said.

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