LUMBERTON — Southeastern Health will partner with Campbell University by helping train doctors from its School of Osteopathic Medicine that will open in the fall. Southeastern officials say they hope the effort will mean more doctors who will practice locally.
The announcement was made Tuesday during a press conference at Southeastern Regional Medical Center that included representatives of Southeastern Health and the private university in Fayetteville. Other partners in the venture are Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville and WakeMed Health and Hospital in Raleigh, where students will also train.
Campbell’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, which was approved in 2010, is scheduled to completed in August, with classes to begin for the fall. It will focus on primary care training: family medicine; general surgery;obstetrics and gynaecology; pediatrics; psychiatry; and other critical services. According to information provided for the event, it will be the first new school of medicine in North Carolina in more than 35 years.
The total cost to build the school will be more than $60 million; it is expected to generate $300 million and 1,158 new jobs in its first 10 years of operation.
Osteopathic physicians are licensed to practice medicine in all 50 states. They typically have the same privileges and responsibilities as medical doctors. Campbell expects to eventually graduate 150 physicians each year.
“Southeastern Health has provided quality health care to the citizens of Robeson County and the region since 1953,” said Joann Anderson, CEO of Southeastern Health. “The addition of the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine as a formal partner will provide a tremendous influx of physicians in training to benefit our hospitals and community.”
Southeastern Health, a non-profit, offers an wide array of health care services through its affiliated divisions, including Southeastern Regional Medical Center, which is licensed for 452 beds. It offers a combination of acute care, intensive care and psychiatric services to more than 16,000 inpatients and 76,000 emergency patients annually.
“Southeastern Health is privileged to have a world class staff of physicians who can treat virtually any medical issue,” said Dr. Joseph Roberts, president of Southeastern Health’s medical staff. “We look forward to integrating Campbell medical students into our medical rotations and community. They are a welcome and much-needed addition to our community,”
The students will spend their first two years training in the new medical school at Campbell University and their last two years at one of the three community campus, Southeastern, Cape Fear or WakeMed, according to Dr. John Kauffman, dean of the school.
It is is estimated that by the year 2020 the United States will be short 90,000 physicians, Kauffman said. North Carolina currently ranks 34th in the nation in primary care physicians.
According to the Campbell University website, 60 out of North Carolina’s 100 counties have a shortage of primary care physicians and more than 30 percent have no practicing obstetricians or gynecologists. Fewer than half of medical students in North Carolina end up practicing in the state, according to Kauffman.
“A tremendous advantage to working with Southeastern Health is that they are able to build new residencies,” he said after the press conference. “Physicians usually practice close to where they train.”
Anderson worked in a similar partnership in eastern Kentucky.
“I’ve seen the difference that a school like this can bring to a rural community that has huge challenges when it comes to health care needs,” she said.
Campbell University began addressing health care issues in 1985 with the establishment of its School of Pharmacy, now known as the School of Pharmacy to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.