ASHEVILLE, NC – Leaders from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine announced an expansion of the school’s Asheville Regional Campus, which operates in collaboration with Mission Health System and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).
“In these tough economic times, I am pleased that we maintained our commitment to caring for the people of our state by making this expansion a reality,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “We are seeing an increase in patient volume and a decrease in the number of health care providers. By expanding the School’s presence in Asheville, we will improve our capacity to train more physicians, especially rural and primary care physicians, for which the need is most urgent.”
The Asheville campus class size will increase from the current six students to up to 10 next year, with a long-term goal of expanding to 20 students per class.
Mission Health System President and CEO Ronald A. Paulus, MD, MBA, also announced that Mission will commit $7 million to purchase the MAHEC Bridge Building on Biltmore Avenue and transform it into a dedicated center for all medical education activities on the hospital campus. The building will become home to the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, future hospital-based residencies and other potential collaborations with UNC in research, patient care and teaching.
“Mission is proud to continue our long-standing partnership with UNC, MAHEC and our dedicated physician faculty to help train the next generation of physicians and other health professionals here in Western North Carolina,” said Paulus. “We see this as critical to Mission’s responsibility to advance the long-term health and well-being of this region. In addition to contributing to the health of our people, this expansion will also contribute to the health of our economy by continuing to cultivate a vibrant healthcare sector that spurs jobs and business growth.”
Teck Penland, Ph.D., president and CEO of MAHEC, commented that the expansion of the Asheville Regional Campus “is a significant move forward for the entire Western North Carolina region, as it will help to ensure that we have an adequate supply of physicians to meet the increasing healthcare needs of our growing, aging population.”
The Asheville Regional Campus, launched in 2008, provides clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students at Mission Hospital. Currently 10 medical students are enrolled at the Asheville campus, working closely with practicing Mission physicians as their primary teachers and mentors. The campus utilizes an innovative patient-centered curriculum which is now being replicated across the state.