ELIZABETHTOWN – Campbell University officials recently visited Bladen County Hospital to help launch a new medical student training partnership.
The program was created to give third-year medical students from the Buies Creek school hands-on learning experience by training alongside practicing physicians.
Jerry M. Wallace is Campbell University’s chancellor and namesake of the school’s Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. He called the 44 students in attendance “pioneers,” because they are among the school’s first medical students to do medical rotations at area hospitals.
“Nothing makes me more proud,” Wallace said. “It’s the finest realization of a dream, thanks to the hospital physicians here. They’ll not only be teachers, but also mentors, to our medical students.”
Wallace’s attendance at the program launch served as an unofficial homecoming. He was Elizabethtown Baptist Church’s pastor from 1960-1975, before embarking on his educational career. Two of his three children were also born in the county.
“Dr. Wallace is no stranger to Bladen County,” said Pearly Graham Hoskins, M.D., Bladen County Hospital’s Chief of Staff. “He’s returning home after a long, distinguished career at Campbell University to help us welcome students from a medical school rightly named in his honor.”
Campbell University and Bladen County Hospital officials hope the partnership will ultimately lead to more physicians practicing in rural areas like Bladen and Robeson counties. Bladen County is one of a handful of federally designated N.C. rural communities, because its healthcare needs are underserved.
Attracting more doctors to rural communities not only benefits patients, but the communities themselves. Statistics show for every new primary care physician, 6-7 new jobs are created, generating an average of $300,000 in annual local, state and federal tax revenue. The economic impact equals roughly $3.6 million over time.
John Kauffman, D.O., is the Founding Dean of Campbell University’s Osteopathic Medicine Program. He said physicians are 50 percent more likely to practice within 50 miles of where they train.
“This is why we are committed to rural training,” Dr. Kauffman said, “because they tend to practice in their comfort zone. If they train in rural areas, then they are likely to go into practice in rural areas.”
Rachel Dellehunt is one of the third-year medical students now training at Bladen County Hospital. She’s already impressed by the small-town atmosphere and friendliness of local residents.
“My favorite part of rotations is how after I finish talking with a patient, they ask me about myself,” she said. “They want to know more about me and are excited to be part of my medical training experience.”
Lisa Byrd, Bladen Healthcare’s president, said the feelings are mutual.
“Cape Fear Valley Bladen Healthcare is very excited about the medical students being at Bladen,” Byrd said. “We feel that this relationship will be very beneficial to our patients and communities.”