• Robust physician mentoring program shapes future of primary care U.S. will need 39,000 more family physicians by 2020 North Carolina will need 4,700 family physicians by 2020

CHAPEL HILLL, N.C. – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation today announced a $1.18 million grant to the N.C. Academy of Family Physicians (NCAFP) Foundation for a mentoring program to help address the shortage of family physicians in North Carolina. Through this grant, NCAFP will increase medical students’ exposure to innovative practice in family medicine and encourage more of the state’s medical students to pursue a career in family medicine, ultimately ensuring that more North Carolinians have access to high quality primary care.

Recently passed health care reform legislation will increase the number of North Carolinians who are insured and who seek regular primary care, exacerbating the shortfall of primary care physicians. A 2006 American Academy of Family Physicians Workforce Study estimated that the United States will need approximately 39,000 more family physicians by 2020. North Carolina now has about 2,700 family physicians, with projections indicating the state will need 2,000 more by 2020 in order to address the state’s health care needs. While the number of family physicians in North Carolina is growing, current rates of growth would only meet 75 percent of the projected need.

“Communities across North Carolina work hard to attract quality physicians to provide primary care for our citizens,” said Brad Wilson, chairman of the BCBSNC Foundation. “However, we are already faced with a national shortage of primary care physicians, and the recently passed health care reform legislation will mean an increase in the number of folks seeking care. We hope that through this initiative, North Carolina medical students will receive the help and incentive they need to make a commitment to family medicine.”

The $1.18 million grant supports the establishment of the Family Medicine Interest and Scholars Program, a two-tiered effort to help increase the number of North Carolina-trained medical students who elect family medicine residency programs and go on to practice in the state.

“With the urgent need for more primary care physicians, we are proud to support a program that will have a real impact on this state,” added Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. “Identifying students early who are interested in a career in family medicine and helping them reach that goal will in-turn benefit communities all across North Carolina.” 

 The program aims to increase the percentage of medical students who commit to a residency in family medicine by approximately 30 percent and the percent of those who elect to stay in the state for their residency training from 56 percent in 2008 to at least two-thirds over the length of the six-year program. This grant is expected to yield a significant return on investment. According to the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies, the annual economic impact of one new family physician to the state of North Carolina is more than $950,000.

The program will provide North Carolina medical students with role models in family medicine, pairing them with innovative family physicians in clinical practice settings. These physician mentors will work with students for three consecutive years to strengthen skills, offer guidance and help fast-track their health care leadership training and experience.  

The program also targets a broader audience of medical students to increase interest in family medicine by improving and increasing interaction between practicing family physicians and students at each of North Carolina’s four medical schools.

“The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians is committed to improving primary and family health care in North Carolina and our hope is that this program sparks the health care industry to look for more innovative ways to address the primary care shortage in our state,” said Greg Griggs, executive vice president, NCAFP. “We understand that pursuing family medicine is often not an easy choice for medical students. We believe this grant will help make family medicine more of an option for North Carolina medical students. And the access to dedicated mentors will help these students provide quality medical care to patients across the state. “

Students who participate in the scholars program will also receive additional exposure to family medicine throughout their schooling, including additional clinical experiences, and will have the opportunity to access scholarship funding if they ultimately enter a family medicine residency program.
The NCAFP Foundation has identified the students and mentors participating in the program for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Medical School
Corrie Burke
Lithonia, GA
UNC School of Medicine
Hannah Fuhr
Bad Kreuznach, Germany
Brody School of Medicine at ECU
Kelley Haven
Greenville, NC
Brody School of Medicine at ECU
Samantha Heuertz
Charlotte, NC
UNC School of Medicine
Ashley Hink
Raleigh, NC
Brody School of Medicine at ECU
Holly Love
Mount Pleasant, NC
Brody School of Medicine at ECU
William Martin
Winterville, NC
UNC School of Medicine
Brian Moore
Chapel Hill, NC
UNC School of Medicine
Brian Sanders
Greensboro, NC
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Daniel White
Johnson City, TN
UNC School of Medicine
Patrick Williams
Hickory, NC
Brody School of Medicine at ECU
Physician Mentors
Mark E. Beamer, MD
Belhaven, NC
Pungo Family Medicine, PA
Sara O. Beyer, MD
Charlotte, NC
Steele Creek Family Practice
Jonathan E. Fischer, MD
Carrboro, NC
Piedmont Health Services
Conrad L. Flick, MD
Raleigh, NC
Family Medical Associates of Raleigh
Brian R. Forrest, MD
Apex, NC
Access Healthcare
Elizabeth P. Fry, MD
Greenville, NC
Physicians East
Michelle F. Jones, MD
Wilmington, NC
Wilmington Health Associates
David E. Lee, MD
Lewisville, NC
Family Medical Associates
J. Thomas Newton, MD
Clinton, NC
Clinton Medical Clinic, Inc.
Charles W. Rhodes, MD
Mount Pleasant, NC
Cabarrus Family Medicine
J. Carson Rounds, MD
Wake Forest, NC
Village Family Medicine

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation:
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation was established in 2000 as a separate, independent, nonprofit entity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. BCBSNC Foundation's focus includes: increasing access to care and improving health outcomes of populations served by safety-net organizations; increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, BCBSNC Foundation has invested more than $60 million into North Carolina communities through more than 400 grants.

About North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians:
The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, Inc. (NCAFP) is a non-profit professional association headquartered in Raleigh representing nearly 2,700 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students across North Carolina. It is the largest medical specialty association in North Carolina and is a constituent chapter of the 94,700 member-strong American Academy of Family Physicians, based in Leawood, Kansas.