Novant Health Rowan teaching medical students a plus for Rowan’s economy

Published 1:40 pm Thursday, April 16, 2015

By David Purtell

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center’s partnership with a medical school could mean a big economic boost for the county.

The hospital signed an agreement last year with Campbell University, a private school in Harnett County, to have third- and fourth-year medical students in Campbell’s school of medicine be trained at the hospital beginning this summer.

Starting in July, 22 third-year medical students will receive training at the hospital. Next year, a total of 44 third- and fourth-year medical students will do clinical rotations at the hospital.

Dr. Brian Kessler, the medical school’s associate dean for clinical affairs, talked about the program and its potential economic impact on the community during Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Trinity Oaks.

Simply having medical students living in the area will be a boost to the county’s economy as the students — and, in some cases, their families — spend money on things like housing, food, transportation and shopping.

Kessler presented figures showing a typical student’s estimated expenditures in the community to be $13,000 a year.

If students decide to buy a home and raise their family in the community, the impacts are even greater, Kessler said.

Family medicine and general medical doctors in the region make more than $150,000 a year, Kessler said, citing Census data. Because households with doctors make much more money than a typical household, that means more money being pumped back into the local economy. And more doctors in a community means a healthier community and will help recruit other doctors to the area, he said.

Having a teaching hospital could also attract research programs, he said.

Dari Caldwell, president of Rowan Medical Center, said the partnership is about the hospital’s and community’s future. Training future doctors who could eventually live and work in the county is a great opportunity, she said.

She said the hospital’s physicians are excited to teach the medical students.

Campbell University started its medical school in 2013 in response to the need for doctors.

North Carolina, like the rest of the country, is facing and will continue to face a shortage of doctors in the coming years. The number of new doctors being trained isn’t enough to keep up with the demands of a growing population.

Campbell University focuses its medical program on training doctors to work in underserved and rural areas. Rowan County isn’t considered an underserved community, but neighboring counties and much of the state are.

The school is sending its medical students to train at hospitals in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Fayetteville and Lumberton.

Contact Reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.