Campbell University is expanding its degree offerings with the job market and the needs of its region and state in mind. It’s a smart strategy being executed by a university used to confounding skeptics.
Campbell Law School? That proposal was greeted with questions about whether the state needed another law school. Campbell plowed ahead, and the school now located in downtown Raleigh has turned out lots of good lawyers indeed. Pharmacy? The answer from some was, “Doesn’t UNC-Chapel Hill do that?” But now Campbell does, too.
The quality of the education students are getting shows in licensing exams. Campbell law students always rank first or second in the percentage who pass the state bar exam. In the past three years, Campbell’s pharmacy grads ranged between 93 and 99 percent on passing rates for their state boards. And those in the school’s first two classes of physicians assistants passed at rates of 88 and 97 percent.
Given that record, few now doubt whether the school based in Buies Creek 30 miles south of Raleigh can handle expansion. Campbell’s School of Osteopathic Medicine opened in 2013. In March, Campbell broke ground on a nursing school. Next year, it will open an engineering school.
The broader move into health care is a timely strategy in terms of providing graduates with work opportunities. The population is aging; the need for professionals in occupational therapy, physical therapy and other parts of the health care industry is growing and will continue to do so as baby boomers hit their higher maintenance years.
Training for jobs
As The News & Observer’s Jane Stancill reported, the moves at Campbell come at a time when colleges and especially private colleges are finding the competition for students more intense, and those students want to study something that can get them a JOB degree. The health care field is an attractive one. After years of poor pay and tough working conditions, nurses now make much better livings than they used to. And the field has a host of specialties where the opportunities are better than they have ever been.
For Dr. John Kauffman, dean of the Campbell medical school, the mission is also about the need in the areas where Campbell’s physician graduates, now doing their clinical work, will train. He hopes students may settle down in places in Eastern North Carolina where they’re doing their training. These doctors, he thinks, may “change the face of medicine, especially in the eastern part of the state over time.”
There’s no about about the need. Kauffman says the state has 20 counties without a general surgeon, 20 without an obstetrician and 20 without a pediatrician.
Serving rural needs
Here, perhaps, there is a lesson in the history of East Carolina University’s medical school. Getting the school was a hard-fought battle, with the university promising it was going to train family physicians for rural areas. The skeptics of the time questioned whether that was possible. But that’s exactly what the medical school has done.
Campbell might have the opportunity, with the physical therapy training and other students in health sciences’ curricula, to serve rural areas with specialists who can treat people who might not have had access to physical therapy and other treatments.
With a strong track record in law and pharmacy, Campbell is responding to public demand and helping its region.