North Carolina AHEC Program
fall 2013 newsletter | home

New Teachers, New Doctors Create Unique Partnership

Each year, Cumberland County Schools hires approximately 300 teachers who must have a physical exam and a TB skin test to meet their employment requirements. This is often difficult, because these new teachers are not yet covered by the school system’s health insurance and, because many are new to the area, they don’t know who to call. To help these local educators get ready for the new school year, The Family Medicine Center at Southern Regional AHEC (SR-AHEC) provides physicals for new Cumberland County School teachers at no cost on two set evenings during the summer.

Intern Alex Gelou, MD and teacher Lisa OrrThis unique partnership between the Cumberland County Schools and The Family Medicine Center at SR-AHEC has been a perfect union for both the new teachers and the new physicians who come to Fayetteville each year to launch their careers in education and medicine. The partnership began in 2004 as part of the school system’s Give Incentives For Teachers (G.I.F.T.) Program, allowing local businesses to offer incentives that welcome new teachers to the community.

(Photo right: Intern Alex Gelou, MD and Cumberland County School's teacher Lisa Orr)

Tina Chapman, beginning teacher support coordinator for the Cumberland County Schools, believes this type of incentive has a positive impact on the new teacher’s experience of Fayetteville as a welcoming community. “What a great way to show new teachers how the community cares about their well-being and that we are glad they are here,” Chapman says of the school system’s partnership with SR-AHEC. “Many new teachers are relocating to the area and are recent college graduates; most live on a very tight budget and moving is expensive. This also gives them access to a health care provider during the year in the event they need medical attention.”

As a training facility for doctors to earn board certification in family medicine, The Family Medicine Center at SR-AHEC has as many as eight new interns entering the residency program each summer, eager to take care of the health needs of their patients. Many of them volunteer on the two evenings that the physicals are offered to teachers, giving these new family medicine residents an opportunity to learn how to best conduct routine physical exams.

Chapman says that the free physical offered by SR-AHEC is one less thing that the new teacher has to worry about. “Just knowing that they have a doctor that they can schedule an appointment with if they get sick is a great way to say 'Welcome to Fayetteville and thanks for teaching our children.'”

The teachers have shown their appreciation by making The Family Medicine Center at Southern Regional AHEC their permanent health care choice for them and for their families.

The comprehensive Beginning Teacher Support Program is one way that the Cumberland County Schools system recruits new teachers to the area. In addition to the community support, each first year teacher is assigned a retired teacher to help them during their first year. The beginning teacher is also assigned a buddy teacher at their school for additional support. “Cumberland County Schools is committed to our new teachers and strives to provide the necessary support needed to help new teachers succeed in their new journey,” Chapman says.