Category Archives: Medical Education

Revolutionizing Heart and Vascular Care

At UNC Health Care, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to serve our patients. One way we do that is through partnerships and collaboration. I am proud to say that, through our partnership with UNC REX Healthcare, we recently opened the doors of the new, state-of-the-art North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital on the Raleigh campus of UNC REX.

North Carolina has the 12th highest incidence of heart and vascular disease in the country. We lose about 18,000 people annually from heart disease. At the same time, the population continues to grow, increasing the demand for quality health care providers.

The 114-bed hospital is staffed by leading physicians in Wake County, and is now the hub for a premier heart and vascular program in the Southeast. Since we are an academic medical center, we also bring in medical students from the School of Medicine who are training in interventional cardiology and vascular surgery. This not only helps advance the teaching mission of the medical school, it also provides a closer connection to the research and advanced treatments provided by the Medical Center in Chapel Hill.

Since all of UNC REX’s heart and vascular services moved into this new facility, there are plans to improve and repurpose vacated space on its main campus to improve patient care. For example, part of this space will be converted into a behavioral health zone for patients being treated in the hospital’s emergency department – fulfilling a critical need in Wake County.

For more information on North Carolina Heart & Vascular, click here.

UNC School of Medicine Recognized by AAMC

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently delivered its annual report, and the UNC School of Medicine ranked highly. The report said that at UNC, we are:

  • Providing graduates that meet priority needs
  • Delivering a diverse physician workforce
  • Advancing medical discoveries
  • Producing very satisfied graduates
  • Meeting community needs
  • Offering an affordable education

The report is evidence that the school continues to strive toward our mission, but also shows us where there are opportunities for improvement. For example, our school was ranked in the 17th percentile for Hispanic graduates, but in the 94th percentile for African-American graduates. We must continue working to recruit, train and graduate a more diverse workforce, as well as maintain and improve upon our success in all other areas.

To view the AAMC’s full report, click here: UNC AAMC Rankings.

The State Of Things: My View on Health Care in America

I recently was interviewed by Frank Stasio on WUNC’s “The State of Things.” We discussed the health care challenges our country faces, including gaps in mental health and preventive care, among others. I also discussed some of the myths about health care in our country and explained how UNC Health Care is working with others to provide high-quality affordable care and to train the next generation of physicians.

Listen to the full interview here.

School of Medicine ranks highly

U.S. News & World Report announced this week that the UNC School of Medicine ranked 1st in Primary Care. The improved health of our country and state will depend on innovation in the delivery of primary care, and I am very pleased that our program is leading among all medical schools.

The School also ranked 22nd in Research overall and several specialty areas were named in the top 20: Family Medicine (2nd), Rural Medicine (5th), Audiology (3rd), Occupational Therapy (10th), AIDS (9th), Physical Therapy (9th) and Speech-Language Pathology (11th).

As we work to be the nation’s leading public school of medicine, these rankings speak volumes for the dedication of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. Thank you all for your dedication to excellence in medical education, research and clinical service. These rankings place our School among the top institutions in the country, and demonstrate our commitment to our mission and vision. You can read more about the rankings and how other programs performed at UNC here.

Leading at the School of Medicine

At the UNC School of Medicine, we constantly strive to be the nation’s leading public school of medicine. We believe that partnership and collaboration are the key to advancing our mission, and our most recent partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) demonstrates our commitment to lead.

Approximately one million North Carolinians are either active or retired military. Many organizations across our state and country work to support these men and women, and now, the School is proud to be a part of this effort. In partnership with BCBSNC, the School is starting a new two-year physician assistant master’s degree program for military medics. This program provides an unprecedented opportunity for these veterans to put their hard-earned skills to work once they return home. BCBSNC pledged $1.2 million over the next four years to help establish the program. We expect to enroll our first class in 2015.

In North Carolina, almost one million people live in areas that do not have adequate access to primary care physicians and services. And, as our state continues to grow in size, access to physicians and quality medical services will be more limited – particularly in rural areas. We anticipate that this program will help increase the number of medical professionals who choose to deliver care in our state. We also hope that other institutions across our state and country will follow our example implement similar programs to support these men and women as they enter the next chapter of service to our country.

New infographic from the AAMC

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently released a new infographic that demonstrates how the country’s medical schools and teaching hospitals work to improve patient care. The graphic can be downloaded and viewed here.

The graphic demonstrates how vital medical schools and teaching hospitals are to our country’s health care system. For instance, the nation’s nearly 400 major teaching hospitals train 80,000 residents in primary care and specialty areas each year. Nearly half of all external research funded by the National Institutes of Health is conducted at medical schools. And, AAMC teaching hospitals provide nearly 40 percent of hospital charity care.

UNC Health Care’s status as a teaching hospital allows us to better train the next generation of doctors and better serve the patients we see each day. We are proud to be a part of a nationwide effort to improve care and better train medical students.

Training medical school graduates outside of Chapel Hill

I was pleased to see the Raleigh News & Observer’s recent coverage of the UNC Family Medicine’s medical training program at Prospect Hill Community Health Center in Caswell County. In the story, Dr. Evan Ashkin points out that the average physician to patient ratio in North Carolina is low – nine physicians per 10,000 patients. This ratio becomes even more skewed in rural and economically vulnerable areas.

The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care are working together to mitigate the health care challenges in the rural areas of our state. One of the ways we do this is by providing residents with opportunities to train in underserved areas across North Carolina – like Prospect Hill.

North Carolina is expected to grow by four million people in the next 18 years, and our state’s health care challenges will grow along with it. Coupled with this growth is an aging physician population. Within 20 years, our state will have 25 percent fewer primary care physicians than we need – particularly in rural areas.

By encouraging residents to train in locations like Prospect Hill, the School hopes to better serve patients in communities that need more physicians and increased access to care. This is an important part of our mission, and I look forward to continuing this commitment to the people of North Carolina.