GREENVILLE, N.C. – No other medical school in North Carolina – and only one other in the nation – has produced a higher percentage of family physicians in the last decade than the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, according to officials from two prestigious organizations.
Officials from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (NCAFP) announced and celebrated this achievement during a visit to Brody last week.
“Brody has a wonderful track record of not only recruiting young people who are interested in practicing medicine, especially in underserved and rural areas, but also leading the nation in the percentage of ECU graduates who are actually going to go into primary care,” said Dr. Gary L. LeRoy, president-elect of the AAFP.
According to the AAFP, the United States is struggling with a shortage of primary care physicians that is expected to worsen to a deficit of more than 33,000 primary care physicians by 2035. In North Carolina, experts project the state’s population will grow by 2.1 million new residents by 2035, while the rising number of physicians reaching retirement age and an uneven distribution of doctors across the state could create a dire health care shortage in many areas.
Over the last 10 years, however, 18.8 percent of Brody graduates entered family medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). AAFP officials said only one other allopathic medical school in the U.S. – the University of North Dakota, at 18.9 percent – had a higher percentage during that time.
ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton said the recognition from the AAFP and the NCAFP further emphasizes the successes of both the university and Brody in meeting a shared mission to serve the residents of North Carolina.
“Brody is committed to recruiting and training future physicians who are passionate about improving the health of North Carolinians, particularly those in rural and underserved areas,” Staton said. “Not only are we meeting this mission, this recognition from such distinguished organizations is proof that Brody is a model for others to follow.”
Approximately 50 percent of Brody graduates are currently practicing in North Carolina, which is a much higher percentage than graduates from any of the state’s other medical schools. The school consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of U.S. medical schools for graduating physicians who practice in-state, practice primary care and practice in rural and underserved areas.
“Brody is the quintessential example of how you recruit these young people to the specialty of family medicine,” LeRoy said. “ECU recruits from North Carolina, and these are individuals who are actually going to stay in North Carolina. They know what the needs are of this state and they are really excited about serving their state.”
LeRoy presented Dr. Kendall Campbell, Brody’s interim senior associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for diversity and inclusion, an award celebrating Brody’s track record of producing primary care physicians. The award included the following message from current AAFP President Dr. John Cullen:
“This achievement reflects your dedication to your mission to increase the supply of primary care physicians for the state, to improve the health of citizens in eastern North Carolina and to enhance the access of minority and disadvantaged students to a medical education,” Cullen wrote.
This recognition from AAFP and NCAFP officials was a significant honor for the entire Brody community, Campbell said.
“We believe that Brody is setting the stage for primary care and family medicine,” Campbell said. “I think this recognition is a message to our community, students and faculty that we are about the business of mission. We are improving health care for the citizens of North Carolina, and this is evidence of our success.”
Campbell said Brody is providing physicians to meet the needs of patients, families and communities throughout eastern North Carolina while remedying health disparities in the region.
“We’re talking about improved health outcomes, and that can be translated into dollars saved. It can be translated into healthier people at work and healthier people in our communities,” he said.
Hannah Smith, a second-year medical student from Mount Pleasant, said she chose to attend Brody because she has always wanted to be a family physician and she knew the school’s mission was to prepare primary care physicians to serve in North Carolina.
The recognition from the AAFP and NCAFP is a source of pride for Brody’s students, Smith said.
“At Brody we want to train physicians to give the best care that they can for all the populations in North Carolina,” she said. “To have a national organization here saying we’re doing an excellent job and we’re excelling means a lot and lets us know that we’re doing something right.”