BUIES CREEK, N.C. — In its effort to create a medical school to help address a rising shortage of physicians in North Carolina, particularly in rural counties and other poor communities, Campbell University has raised over $13 million in gifts and pledges in a campaign to raise $20 million.
With a price-tag of $60 million for a 21-acre medical-school campus that will house five buildings totaling 97,000 square feet, the university also has borrowed $30 million from its endowment, which now totals $139 million.
The medical school, with groundbreaking expected in 2012, will enroll 150 students in each class, for a total of 600 after four years, and will provide clinical training in partnership with hospitals and health systems in eastern North Carolina.
The school, which still must secure accreditation from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, will be the fifth medical school in the state and the first since East Carolina University opened its medical school in Greenville in 1977.
“It can’t come soon enough,” Michael Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health System in Fayetteville, one of the new medical school’s clinical partners, told a group of 80 people at a meeting Aug. 24 of the Campbell University Medical School Founders Board.
By the mid-2020s, he said, the U.S. will face a shortage of 125,000 physicians, with the most acute shortage expected among primary-care physicians.
“There is a demonstrated need for additional physicians and health-care professionals in North Carolina and across this nation,” Jerry M. Wallace, Campbell’s president, told the Founders Board group. “We are in an underserved area, and the shortage is becoming even more critical.”
Dr. John M. Kauffman, the new school’s dean, said North Carolina ranks 31st among the 50 states in physicians per capita, and 35th in primary-care physicians per capita, with 20 counties in the state lacking even a single general surgeon.
James O. Roberts, vice president for business and treasurer at Campbell, told the group the cost of the new medical school will be far below those of new medical schools at other universities because, rather than building a teaching hospital as those schools are doing, Campbell will be partnering with regional health systems to provide clinical training.
Those health systems include Cape Fear Valley Health System, Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, WakeMed in Raleigh, Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford, Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn, Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, Sampson Regional Medical Center in Clinton, and New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.
The focus of the new medical school will be osteopathic medicine, an alternative medical practice that prepares osteopathic practitioner to facilitate the process in which the body heals itself.
“We want to be the leading trainer of missionary physicians,” said Kauffman.
He said the new med school, in supporting the mission of the Baptist university, will focus on “mind, body and spirit.”
A study prepared in March by Michael L. Walden, an economist at N.C. State University, concluded the new school would have a total impact of nearly $300 million over its first 10 years of operation and first five years of graduates, with employment associated with the school peaking at over 1,100 jobs, including 100 jobs at the school itself.
The fundraising campaign has received a commitment of $3 million from the Harnett County Board of Commissioners.
Britt Davis, vice president for institutional advancement at Campbell, says the new medical school will open facilities for training for local emergency medical technicians in the county and for nursing students at Central Carolina Community College.
School officials announced at the meeting that Ed and Dinah Gore, whose family developed the Sunset Beach community on the North Carolina coast, will donate $2 million for the new medical school.
Campbell raised $10 million for a new facility it opened in 2007 for its pharmacy school, and $10 million for a new home it opened in Raleigh in September 2009 for its law school.
And in the school year that just started, the school has launched a master’s degree program for physician assistants.