North Carolina AHEC Program
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Campbell University, Osteopathic Medicine and Southern Regional AHEC: A Perfect Fit

A 2007 North Carolina Institute of Medicine Report, Providers in Demand: North Carolina’s Primary Care and Specialty Supply, spelled out the need for an additional medical school in the state ‐ one that would address the looming shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians in the U.S. by 2020, half of them in primary care. It also forced health care leaders to take a serious look at putting the medical school in a place that would encourage the students to train, work and live in counties with underserved populations and limited heath care access.

Based on the criteria, the chosen spot for North Carolina’s newest medical school was Campbell University, located in Buies Creek, off U.S. 421 in rural Harnett County. It’s a natural fit alongside the notable law school, pharmacy and business schools already housed on the campus. Being in a medical shortage area simply made Campbell University the perfect location. Since the groundbreaking ceremony in December 2011, the medical school has been on an ambitious schedule to prepare for their first students in August, 2013.

It’s no mistake that the first medical school to be built in the state in over 35 years is taking an osteopathic, community‐based approach to address the problem of rural access to health care. John Kauffman, DO, founding dean of the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, makes a case for the osteopathic model as ideal for family medicine and primary care. The osteopathic medical school will have clinical campuses and is primary care based by design, he says. The school will work directly with community hospitals and the three clinical campuses will be: WakeMed in Raleigh, Cape Fear Valley in Fayetteville and Southeastern Medical Center in Lumberton.

“We believe that the students need to be trained where they can be plugged into the community,” Kauffman (photo right with Don Maharty, DO, Southern Regional AHEC director of pre-doctoral education, left) said. “It’s not by accident that our students will do their core rotations in these hospitals in their third year and fourth year,” he said, referring to the students’ clinical schedule. ”Putting them in practices where you want them to end up, is a great way for them to see themselves in these environments.”

One goal of the program is that a residency will be waiting for the students in one of these strategic, underserved areas. “We need each of these clinical campuses to have residencies in family medicine, obstetrics, internal, general surgical, and emergency medicine, because that is what the state needs,” Kauffman emphasizes. “Our mission is to provide physicians for rural/underserved areas of North Carolina and the southeastern U.S. We can’t be successful without hospitals and residencies to put our students.”

With a dually accredited family medicine residency program and the leadership of its osteopathic faculty, Southern Regional Area Health Education Center in Fayetteville is one of the residencies Kauffman has in mind. From the beginning, Southern Regional AHEC has been an integral partner with the Campbell University Osteopathic School of Medicine. “One way we depend on the partnership with Southern Regional AHEC is through the family medicine residency,” Kauffman said. “It is extremely important for us to have solid rotations with outstanding mentors so our students are seeing primary care physicians who are modeling all the qualities we would hope to have in our physicians,” he said of the relationship with Southern Regional AHEC. “That is where the partnership is very strong.”

The medical school would like for 50 percent of their physicians to go into family medicine, according to Kauffman. “We want them to stay in North Carolina, so to have a place where those students can come and learn, learn the community, and build those relationships ‐ is very important to our success.” He believes that Southern Regional AHEC’s residency program will benefit, too. “Imagine having students who are based there and you get to know,” Kauffman said. “These students are going to put down roots in the community; and once that starts to happen, students are less likely to move away.”

For the Campbell University Osteopathic School of Medicine, all the details are falling into place. The school’s location, its partnership with Southern Regional AHEC and its osteopathic focus have been a perfect fit. And Dean Kauffman knew he was in the right place when he read Campbell University’s slogan, Mind, Body, Spirit, on the school’s website. “It reminded me of the osteopathic focus on the whole patient,” Kauffman recalled. “I knew we were a perfect fit for Campbell University’s focus on the whole person.”

Future Site of Campbell University Osteopathic School of Medicine