UNC Physician Assistant Program: Expanding the Reach of UNC Health Care

North Carolina is projected to gain about 1 million residents each decade through 2040, reaching a population of 12.5 million. This growth could bring many economic and societal benefits to our state, but it also brings challenges. One of those is ensuring that we are preparing more health practitioners to meet the needs of our growing population.

At UNC Health Care, we are committed to improving the health of all North Carolinians. That’s why we recently launched the UNC Physician Assistant Program. The UNC PA program recruits and trains non-traditional students to provide health services in underserved areas across the state. This program allows students, particularly veterans with medical experience, to leverage skills gained through their military service to serve patients in primary care work.

The first class of UNC PA students will enroll in January 2016. This class of 20 includes nine veterans. In addition to supporting our troops, this program is helping to fulfill a critical health care need across our state, now and into the future.

To learn more about the UNC Physician Assistant Program, click here.

Town by Town, Complete Care

Health care has changed dramatically in recent years, and UNC Health Care has changed to meet the evolving landscape. We are now a statewide system with eight hospitals serving patients across North Carolina.

We have grown and changed, but what remains the same is our system-wide commitment to complete care, which for us is a combination of expertise and empathy. We know patients want the best, most cutting-edge care, and they want it delivered with empathy, by doctors and nurses they trust.

Our system branding campaign celebrates the unique differences and strengths among each entity within our system and the School of Medicine. Through this campaign, we want patients to know that we hear their high expectations. We are committed to providing care that is two attributes in balance – breakthrough and attentive, advanced and local – because we believe that this is what gets people well.

The hospitals and physicians UNC has partnered with all share that commitment. Our statewide presence allows for greater collaboration and helps us serve patients more effectively, empathetically and efficiently.

To learn more about how UNC Health Care is providing complete care to patients across North Carolina, visit UNCHealthCare.org/Complete-Care.

UNC Scientist Wins Nobel Prize

At UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, our employees, faculty and staff are innovators. As a team, we are able to provide patients with access to cutting-edge treatments and expert, empathetic care. The unique individuals who make up our teams truly help us meet our mission and consistently help us rank highly for research and care.

I would like to take a moment to offer my sincere congratulations to one member of our team, Dr. Aziz Sancar, a biochemist and a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC. Dr. Sancar was recently honored with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on mapping the cellular mechanisms that underlie DNA repair. Earlier this year, Dr. Sancar and his team created a DNA repair map of the entire human genome.

With his mapping mechanism, Dr. Sancar makes it possible for scientists to pick one of six billion base pairs in the human genome and know how it is repaired.

He shares the Nobel Prize with two other esteemed scientists – Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory in Great Britain, and Paul Modrich of Duke University School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Join me in congratulating Dr. Sancar on this tremendous honor.

Great Nurses Across the System

It takes a strong team to make exceptional care possible. At UNC Health Care, we know that nurses are integral to that team.

I want to congratulate the 11 nurses across our system named to this year’s Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina list. The nurses chosen from our system cover a wide array of specialties including cardiovascular and pulmonary services, women’s and children’s services, and neuroscience. They are evidence of the high-quality care UNC Health Care provides to patients across many different service lines.

Our Great 100 winners, and all of our nurses at UNC Health Care, provide excellent and compassionate care for our patients and their families every day. I want to thank each of them for their commitment to improving patient care.

Click here to learn more about the UNC Health Care nurses recognized for their outstanding professional abilities and commitment to improving health care in their communities.

UNC School of Medicine’s Breakthrough in Autism Research

One out of 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine want to change this.

The School of Medicine’s Dr. Mark Zylka and his research team studied the genome sequences of thousands of children with autism, as well as the genome sequences of their unaffected parents. The researchers pinpointed a mutation that disables a genetic molecular switch to cause one form of autism.

This breakthrough in autism research is just the start. Knowing what causes one form of autism could help our researchers identify therapies for this form and discover the cause of other forms of autism.

The School of Medicine seeks to create innovative medical breakthroughs that improve the overall patient experience. Conducting cutting-edge research like this is one of the many ways we continue to do so.

For more information about the study, click here.

Telemedicine Connecting NC to UNC Health Care

At UNC Health Care, we strive to use the latest and most innovative technology, like telemedicine, to provide the best care possible to our patients.

A grant from The Duke Endowment allows us to connect all emergency departments across our system to the NC Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill via telemedicine. Physicians at our hospitals across the state can quickly connect with specialists at the burn center, ensuring that burn patients from Hendersonville to Rocky Mount receive consistent, quality care from those most knowledgeable about burn injuries.

Our system’s new telemedicine program will meet a great need in our state. While more than 2,000 North Carolinians are admitted each year to hospitals for severe burns, less than 60 percent are admitted to a dedicated burn center. Through telemedicine, physicians at the burn center in Chapel Hill will assess the burns of patients across the state and make treatment recommendations.

As our system grows, we will continue to work together to meet our patients’ needs by providing the best care possible.

To learn more about the telemedicine program, click here.

NIH Invests in NC

The UNC School of Medicine’s mission is to improve the health of North Carolinians and others we serve. One of the ways that we accomplish this is through excellence in research and its translation to patient care.

That’s why I was pleased to learn about pending legislation known as “21st Century Cures,” which would increase research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $8.75 billion nationally over the next five years.

I’m proud to say that UNC Chapel Hill has received more financial support from the NIH than has been given to any other institution in the state.

Thanks to funding from organizations like the NIH, we’ve conducted groundbreaking research, bringing us closer than ever to finding a cure for HIV and developing a real-time map of the human cell cycle. That money not only helps scientists discover cures for diseases, but it plays a major role in making the state a global leader in the biopharma and biotechnology industries.

Investments in the School are also investments in the future of our state, of course, because many of the outstanding medical students who graduate each year become the next generation of North Carolina’s physicians.