by Jenna A. Robinson
In 1974, the ECU Brody School of Medicine was established “to increase the supply of primary care physicians to serve the state, to enhance the access of minority and disadvantaged students in obtaining a medical education, and to improve health status of citizens in eastern North Carolina.”
Now, the school is asking legislators for $8 million in recurring funding to stabilize the institution’s finances, claiming that that Brody is key to the eastern region of the state.
But Brody has not lived up to its promise. Over the past 10 years, nearly sixty percent of its graduates have left the state for their residencies. Many more moved to central or western NC. Most never returned to the eastern part of the state. (See table.)
The problem is particularly acute in highly specialized fields like anesthesiology, neurology, and pathology. Of ECU’s 2014 class, no students specializing in those fields stayed in North Carolina for their residencies. ECU even brags that it has trained surgeons from 33 states in the use of the robotic da Vinci Surgical System.
Compare that to graduates in high-need fields. Three quarters of ECU’s graduates in pediatrics stayed in state for their residences—most of them in eastern North Carolina. More than half of graduates specializing in family medicine stayed in North Carolina, many at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
If state and local leaders are serious about Brody being a resource for Eastern North Carolina, they will consider changing the school’s programs to focus on North Carolina’s real needs.