Brody seeking approval to increase class sizes to 120 students, train more doctors

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Brody School of Medicine is preparing to make their case to the UNC Board of Governors and the General Assembly to increase medical school class sizes from 80 to 120 students.

The move was first discussed back in 2008, but had to be pushed back due to the recession.

Dr. Elizabeth Baxley, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said North Carolina is facing a growing shortage of physicians due to so many retiring.

“Even with all those schools, we’re not producing enough physicians to replace the physicians who are retiring,” she said.

That, along with rising populations and more complex health issues, has created a healthcare problem statewide.

The hope is by increasing classes sizes, more doctors can train in the East and stay local, or within the state, when it comes time to practice medicine.

Since starting, Brody has played a big role in helping to supply the state with doctors.

“55 percent of our graduates are practicing primary care, not just are graduates, but our graduates are in primary care practicing in the state of North Carolina.”

This map shows the counties where Brody trained doctors now practice. The darker the shade of purple, the more Brody trained doctors there are.

Baxley said the timing of the increase works perfectly with the merge of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group. The merge would create more opportunities to have students complete their residency in rural counties, who are most in need.

“When they work out there, they start to really appreciate the benefits of small town living, of being impactful in a rural community, and really being able to make a difference in the community,” Baxley said.

If all goes well, the increase would be phased out over four years, with 10 students being added each year starting in 2018.

Brody still needs to get approval from the UNC Board of Governors and the General Assembly, who would have to help fund the increase costs.

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