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Many areas of North Carolina are experiencing shortages in medical providers.

The state is aware of the shortage of medical providers. The North Carolina Institute of Medicine recommended in their 2007 report, Providers in Demand: North Carolina's Primary Care and Specialty Supply, that North Carolina physician assistant (PA) schools increase their production by 30 percent just to maintain current provider levels. Methodist University plans to increase its annual enrollment from 34 to 40. It won't be difficult to find excellent students to fill the new slots as more than 300 applications are received each year.

Methodist established its PA Program in 1996 in response to the critical primary care health care needs in southeastern North Carolina. Since its inception, the PA Program has produced more than 189 capable physician assistants who practice predominately in NC, but are also serving throughout the nation and overseas in the military. PAs, known as "physician extenders," practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician and assume some of the duties traditionally performed by physicians. They allow physicians more time with patients and for more patients to be seen.

There are currently four well-established Physician Assistant Programs in the state: Duke University, which accepts 66 new students each year; Wake Forest University, which accepts 48 new students; East Carolina University, which accepts 30 new students; and Methodist University, which accepts 34 new students each year. Though none of the four programs enroll large numbers, their impact is significant in that more than 3,000 PAs currently practice in North Carolina.

There is no question that the Methodist Physician Assistant Program is an important part of healthcare in North Carolina. In order to expand its enrollment, however, Methodist needs to construct two buildings—a 7,000 square foot Medical Lecture Hall and a 3,800 square foot Human Anatomy Laboratory, at a project cost of $2,500,000.


Human Anatomy Laboratory (4,400 sq. ft.) $1.0 million

Currently, Methodist is borrowing one small room at the VA Medical Center for its human anatomy laboratory. Not only is this space inadequate for the current 34 students, when the existing agreement ends in 2009, this arrangement will no longer be an option. With an increasing number of veterans needing their services due to injuries sustained in multiple wars, the VA needs every available space. Methodist needs to construct a human anatomy laboratory with showers and locker space that can accommodate up to 50 students and 15 cadavers. Methodist is already a leader with the only full-body anatomy lab in the state. The new Human Anatomy laboratory will offer students a better opportunity to study healthcare.



Medical Lecture Hall (7,730 sq. ft.) $1.5 million

Adequate classroom and lecture space is equally important. Currently, the program has two 30-seat classrooms which are inadequate. Many times during the 28-month program, more than 100 students gather in one room to hear lectures from area physicians. The current facility can barely accommodate the existing PA program, and without additional space, it will be impossible to expand.

There is clearly a need for a medical lecture hall with an auditorium that will accommodate 150 or more people. Plans also call for four breakout rooms to provide additional flexible classroom space.



Both the auditorium and breakout rooms could also be used by the medical community for special lectures and continuing education for healthcare providers in Cumberland County.

There is a critical need for additional healthcare providers in the state. PA students are educated and trained to work in all areas of medicine, especially primary care settings, and to serve rural populations that are most vulnerable. These two buildings will allow the Methodist University PA Program to increase its enrollment to help meet the urgent need for medical professionals, benefiting thousands in North Carolina and beyond. The estimated cost of the Medical Lecture Hall is $1.5 million, and the estimated cost of the Human Anatomy Lab is $1 million.

Please join the Prescription for Success campaign. There are many opportunities for corporations and individuals to support this important project, with naming opportunities throughout the buildings. Your contribution will help expand a program with proven potential for enhancing the quality of healthcare in North Carolina.

To learn more about the Prescription for Success campaign, please contact Robin Davenport in the Development Office at 1-800-488-7110 or