Category Archives: The Practice of Medicine

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.

Two passionate surgeons

Today the UNC medical family is learning about and dealing with the loss of two of our most committed colleagues.

Dr. Keith Amos, assistant professor of surgery, and outstanding surgical oncologist, died very unexpectedly while in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a visiting scholar. He was one of our best and brightest young physician leaders, with a special passion for treating breast diseases and for eliminating health disparities.

Dr. George Sheldon, who chaired the UNC Department of Surgery from 1984 to 2001, died after an illness at UNC Hospitals. He was an internationally renowned leader in medicine and surgery, having served as president or chair of practically every surgical society in the country, and as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will each look for ways to remember and celebrate the work of Keith Amos and George Sheldon.

But today as I remember them both – I am struck by the remarkable gift we have in medicine – to make a difference in the lives of others – and in each of their cases, in the lives of many others.

George and Keith were very different people in many ways, and they were at very different places in their careers – one near the end his, the other in the most productive period of his.

But they both were passionate surgeons, dedicated to serving others.

We will miss them very, very much.

Health care: a desire to help others

Completing a marathon is an incredible accomplishment. And, completing the Boston Marathon is an even greater achievement. That is what makes the events that unfolded at the finish line yesterday even more tragic. It is difficult to comprehend something so terrible, but I am heartened by the outpouring of support.

Runners found the strength to continue running from the finish line to the nearest hospital to give blood. Spectators rushed over barricades to help the injured. And, first responders jumped into action.

I am thankful for the medical and emergency personnel, the medical staff at local hospitals, law enforcement and the everyday citizens who answered the call for help. An inspiring desire to aid others was evident during yesterday’s event, and it was a great reminder of why we do what we do each day – to help others. My thoughts and prayers go out to the runners, the families and the city.

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.