Campbell Universitys medical school took an important step toward becoming the fifth medical school in the state.
The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation awarded Campbells School of Osteopathic Medicine provisional accreditation status, which allows the school to begin recruiting applicants for its inaugural class for August 2013. The status was awarded Friday and is effective July 1, according to a Campbell University press release.
The school aims to eventually produce 150 primary care physicians each year, addressing an often-noted nationwide shortage. In particular, the school will look to aid rural and poor areas that experience the biggest shortfalls in medical care. After two years at the new facility, third- and fourth-year medical students will train in community hospitals across the state, according to the schools dean, Dr. John Kauffman.
This is an exciting moment, said Dr. Jerry Wallace, president of Campbell University. This medical school will train primary care physicians to address a critical shortage of healthcare professionals throughout our state.
Campbell joins established medical schools Duke, Wake Forest, UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University as accredited med schools in the state. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, those four schools currently enroll roughly 2,000 students, meaning that with an eventual goal of 600 students, the states capacity to produce doctors could rise nearly 30 percent.
That goal would give Campbell University the second-highest enrollment in the state after UNC.
The primary care physicians that Campbell intends to recruit will address a pressing need. The AAMC estimated in 2010 that the already-strapped field could face a nationwide shortage of 63,000 physicians in 2015 as millions of Americans acquire health care under the Affordable Care Act. Specialists also face a shortage, even while earning substantially more than primary care doctors.
Rural areas face the greatest shortages, and Kauffman said he hopes doctors will continue to live and work in such communities after they finish their two years earning their medical degrees there.