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This page was printed from : https://www.palmcoastgov.com/mednex

The Nation’s 1st Comprehensive, University-Based Medical Nexus

UNF MedNex will create jobs for Florida students in a region with critical health care needs.

The innovative, multi-county hub and spoke structure will comprise of the UNF campus in Jacksonville as the “hub” geographically as well as functionally for medical care providers and educational institutions to provide pathways to jobs.

Academic disciplines, health care providers, municipalities and academic institutions all come together to create innovative solutions to current and future health care problems.

This medical ecosystem will feature:

  • Full-tuition scholarship programs
  • Experiential learning
  • Partner instruction
  • Unique certificate programs
  • Post-graduation workforce commitment
  • Continuing education
  • Med-tech hub
  • Talent magnet
  • Cutting-edge research
  • New health care programs

An expansive set of disciplines will be offered including:

  • Nursing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Genetic and Addiction Counseling
  • Nutrition
  • Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Analytics
  • Psychology
  • Computing
  • Philosophy (Ethics)

UNF MedNex will support state university system priorities such as attainment goals, retention of health care graduates, partnerships with SUS institutions, partnerships with Florida colleges, 2+2 programs and high school pathways.

UNF’s first connection outside of Duval County and Jacksonville will be Palm Coast.

Proposed Solution

Creation of the nation’s first comprehensive, university-based medical/healthcare nexus, UNF MedNEX. UNF will be at the center of the NE Florida healthcare enterprise connecting healthcare providers with UNF students, faculty, and researchers. Figure 1 illustrates the general nature of the connectedness concept.

MedNEX possesses elements of stem colleges and a health sciences center but goes beyond and accomplishes more by bringing together multiple academic disciplines and institutions (creating pathways among SUS institutions and among FCS institutions) and multiple healthcare organizations (both disparate as well as related health enterprises) to create a superior, integrated

FEDERATION of premier, health-based enterprises. Education, in particular, will possess a heavy experiential component that is not readily duplicable by other educational institutions from other regions.

UNF MedNEX is also unique in that partnerships will take place among the university, healthcare and related providers, local and regional governments, and community partners to address needs now and into the future. As summarized below, MedNEX will consolidate healthcare disciplines, technology development, research and analytics into a collaborative hub of educational learning, development and placement of students as well as a hub of scholarly and technological advancement in healthcare fields for NE Florida and the state.

The next section outlines the UNF MedNEX concept in more detail.

UNF MedNEX© : Learn, Lead, and Innovate

Bringing colleges and organizations together to develop/create the . . .

  • Next generation of healthcare professionals
  • Next-generation of healthcare understandings
  • Next-generation of healthcare technologies


By creating the first university-based, comprehensive medical nexus in the country, UNF seeks to benefit the region, state, and beyond through a transformative interdisciplinary, inter-organizational, and experiential-based focus on healthcare (1) learning, (2) leading, and (3) innovation.


UNF MedNEX is characterized by its hub and spoke structure connecting the multiple components of the medical ecosystem at a regional, state, national, and/or international level with the health-related ecosystem of a major, public university.

The emphases are on training the next generation of healthcare professionals (learn), bringing together scholars and practitioners to advance knowledge and understanding (lead), As well as creating the epicenter in Florida for transformative technology in applied healthcare fields (innovate).


Achieve greater economies of scale, greater efficiencies, and superior outcomes by capitalizing on the unique synergies available through trans-college, trans-discipline, and trans-sector connectedness and collaboration.

Academic Programs and Disciplines:

UNF MedNEX will be expansive in its span of academic disciplines that can and will participate in the student learning and applied research experiences. Disciplines will include nursing, rehabilitation, counseling, nutrition, hard sciences, medical engineering, analytics, psychology, computing, philosophy (ethics training), among others. We anticipate, for example, growing high-need programs in such areas:

  • Genetic Counseling
  • Health Informatics and Analytics
  • Mental Health DNP, including specializations in Traumatic Brain Injury (in partnership with Eisenhower), PTSD (considering the regions military population), Prevention and Treatment, Addiction Counseling, and Animal Assisted Therapy
  • Nutrition & Wellness
    • UNF currently offers Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition (DCN) – this program is only the second of its kind in the United States. The first is at Rutgers University.
    • The Center for Nutrition and Food Security (CNFS) serves as a gateway to the University for non-profit Agencies, government programs, professional organizations, and industry personnel by exploring solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Occupational and Physical Therapy (JAX ranked 2nd best large city for physical therapists)
  • Sports Training and Rehabilitation

Public-Private Partnerships

Breadth of organizations for collaboration utilizing UNF MedNEX© include (universities, colleges, and high schools) + (hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, technology companies, etc.)

The partnership goals are to develop unique experiential learning opportunities through immersion in existing health facilities, classes taught by experienced healthcare professionals, and research that is problem specific and company sponsored.

Proposed UNF MedNEX partnerships may include, but are not limited to:

  • Scholarships
  • Qualified teaching professionals from area hospitals
  • Credentialing: the special set of health professional organizations in Jacksonville further provides the opportunity for students to receive badges in designated areas or specific disciplines with partner organizations (e.g., certification in cancer nursing from MD Anderson, certification in patient service quality from Mayo)
  • Clinical rotations
  • Shared UNF simulation labs and medical technology innovation labs
  • UNF fulfillment of continuing education for institution personnel
  • Online learning collaboration

Current partnerships with industry and non-profit organizations account for more than 28% of UNF’s externally funded research, anchored by major collaborative agreements with institutions such as Johnson & Johnson, Florida Blue, and Mayo Clinic, companies interested in UNF both for our R&D capabilities and for our talented graduates.

As of submission, UNF has confirmed support for the MedNEX concept from Brooks Health, Advent Health, Mayo Clinic, and Memorial Hospital. No entity we have contacted has yet to decline participation. UNF is in the process of reaching out to additional regional providers during the remaining summer months.

Pending Public-Private Partnership: UNF MedNEX and Palm Coast/Flagler

  • The MedNEX represents a multi-county hub and spoke approach to meeting the needs of the medical community in the region currently served by UNF. UNF’s first connection outside Duval County and Jacksonville will be Palm Coast/Flagler County. A public-private partnership is in development with the City of Palm Coast, AdventHealth, Allete Energy, and Flagler County Schools.
  • Needs assessment determines UNF offerings. Flagler County’s most immediate needs are ASN to RN conversion, RN to DNP conversion, and physical therapists. The partnership will include a 2+2 agreement with Daytona State College plus the addition of classroom and health simulation labs to provide advanced training for Jacksonville and Palm Coast health care professionals.

MedNEX Brochure