The University of South Alabama has broken ground on its $200m Frederick P Whiddon College of Medicine building.

The facility will expand the university’s medical education hub by 250,000ft² and is due to be completed in 2026.

It aims to enhance the university’s research capabilities and accommodate a projected increase in its class of first-year medical students from 80 to 100.

Through this, the university aims to address a projected shortage of healthcare providers.

Whiddon College of Medicine dean Dr John Marymont said: “This is an investment in the future of healthcare to meet the needs of Alabamians.

“By national metrics, this medical school produces high-quality physicians that stay in the state, helping meet the needs in primary care as well as in rural and underserved areas at an affordable cost.”

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Key stakeholders, including outgoing Alabama US Senator Richard Shelby and various foundations and organisations, have provided a total of $155m of financial support for the facility.

The university has set a $30m philanthropic goal for the project’s completion, with donors receiving recognition through naming opportunities.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said: “Alabama proudly recognises the value of the Whiddon College of Medicine, and by breaking ground on this state-of-the-art facility, we are further positioning one of our state’s premier institutions to connect our people with the care they need.

“From larger cohorts to greater research capabilities, this new facility will take an already excellent programme to the next level.”

The University of South Alabama and University of South Alabama Health Care Authority (USA Health) have a combined workforce of more than 11,000.

Earlier this year, USA Health agreed to acquire Providence Hospital and its affiliated clinics from Ascension Health in an effort to improve treatment options for patients in Mobile, Alabama.