At Piedmont Health, we are always growing and improving, and I’m happy to report on one of those efforts. One of the initiatives we are working on in 2018 is continuing to strengthen our ties to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Piedmont Health Services’ relationship with UNC is deep and long-standing, and both of us have benefited greatly. The benefits for Piedmont Health are obvious – we get to draw upon one of the very best medical schools in the nation to staff our health centers. UNC is a key part of our mission to provide high-quality health care to all, regardless of ability to pay.
For UNC medical students and residents, Piedmont Health is a place where they can fulfill the “heart” part of their medical education. The medical training at UNC is about the best you can get anywhere, but students can’t get all the training they need in a classroom. While academic training provides students with necessary skills, working in the kind of medically underserved communities that Piedmont Health serves touches their hearts. It’s the reason they became doctors in the first place.
Bringing those two worlds together – the prestigious UNC School of Medicine and the communities we serve – has been an important part of Piedmont Health’s mission, and we are continuing to move forward together.
The Family Medicine Residency Program was the first of its kind in the state when Piedmont and UNC launched it in September of 2012 at the Prospect Hill Community Health Center, which serves rural Caswell County and surrounding counties. Under that program, residents from UNC hospitals serve for three years at Prospect Hill, training with primary care physicians in a community setting.
By 2021, we hope to have nine residents at the Prospect Hill Community Health Center.
We are building upon the success of the Family Medicine Residency Program. Recently, we added a new element to the program. Under this new element, third and fourth-year medical students do 16-week rotations in primary care.
This brings in 30 to 36 students per year to participate in the 16-week rotations. Between the two programs, eventually more than 50 medical trainees would come to Piedmont Health from UNC each year for training or residencies. Many stay on in full-time, permanent positions in underserved communities – and remember these are well- trained professionals who could probably work almost anywhere.
The medical school is not the only school at UNC that Piedmont Health has a relationship with – we also provide training opportunities for students in their schools of dentistry, pharmacy, nutrition, public health, clinical social work and nursing. We also have administrative internships for the UNC School of Public Health.
The relationship is making both of our organizations stronger.