In August of 2010, Campbell University took its first steps toward establishing a school of osteopathic medicine by announcing a formal feasibility study. One year later, the Campbell University Medical School Founders Board met to discuss the University’s progress in making the medical school vision a reality.
Members of the Campbell Board of Trustees, President’s Advisors, university friends and medical community representatives gathered for the meeting, held Aug. 24, on the Buies Creek campus.
The proposed Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, with an estimated start date of 2013, will be the second largest medical school in the state behind the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the only school of osteopathic medicine in the state. By its fourth year, the enrollment is projected to be about 600 students.
“We, here in Buies Creek, are in an underserved area, and the shortage of primary care physicians is becoming more and more critical,” said Jerry Wallace, President of Campbell University. “It was only last year, upon visiting another university considering a medical school that the revelation came that ‘Campbell can do this.’ We can help meet the health care needs of our community.”
North Carolina, like other states across the nation, is facing an increasing shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. According a study by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the state has approximately 7,660 primary care physicians or 8.8 per 10,000 population, which is below the national average of 9.43 per 10,000 population. The study states medical school graduates choosing primary care have dropped 50 percent between 1997 and 2005, and North Carolina is projected to experience a 12 percent decline in per capita physician supply by 2020 and a 26 percent decline by 2030. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s population is expected to increase by 17.6 percent between July 2007 and July 2020 and another 11.7 percent by 2030. And the growth and aging of North Carolina’s population is expected to increase demand (measured by annual visits to physicians) by 34 percent between 2004 and 2020; and persons 65 and older will increase by 33.7 percent between July 2007 and July 2020.
“That is why this medical school is so important. This location is so important,” said Mike Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health. “The physician shortage is most acute in communities farther from densely populated areas.”
Over the last year, Campbell has made significant efforts to prepare for the accreditation process required to establish a medical school. In January 2011, the University hired Dr. John Kauffman as founding dean of the proposed school of osteopathic medicine. Additional administrative and academic support staff members were also hired. A formal application to the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation was submitted, and plans have also been drafted for a 96,500-square-foot medical school facility to be located on U.S. 421 near Campbell's Buies Creek campus.
Noting the drastic shortage of primary care physicians and obstetricians in rural areas, Dean Kauffman affirmed the University’s commitment to recruiting and training students from North Carolina to work in their own communities.
“Our mission is to educate and prepare community-based osteopathic physicians in a Christian environment to care for the rural and underserved populations in North Carolina, the Southeast, United States and the world,” said Kauffman. “Our students will live and work around our clinical campuses.”
The proposed program will include clinical training sites in Fayetteville and New Hanover County, as well as training sites in Wake, Harnett, Lee and Johnston Counties.
The University estimates approximately $60 million is needed to launch a medical school, with nearly $36 million designated for the facility and campus. Additional expenditures involve staffing needs and specialized training equipment and simulation labs.
The project would also impact the local economy significantly. According to a recent study conducted by N.C. State Economist Mike Walden, the proposed School of Osteopathic Medicine will bring nearly $300 million and 1,150 jobs to Harnett County in its first 10 years.