N.C. aims to put more physicians into shortage areas

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 20, 2006

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Two charitable foundations joined forces in North Carolina to increase the number of physicians and allied health care professionals in the state's underserved communities.

Contributions from the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation are expected to bring 60 more physicians and allied health professionals to rural and underserved areas by 2010, which would raise the total of Community Practitioner Program health care staff to 160.

A $10 million gift from the Blues foundation and $5 million from the NCMS Foundation will be used to create an endowment to sustain the Community Practitioner Program. The statewide program was started in 1989 by the NCMS Foundation with a $4.5 million grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Bob Seligson, executive vice president and CEO of the NCMS, said, "Since its inception, the program has become an integral part of the safety net in our state." He said the North Carolina Blues grant would allow them "to significantly increase the program's reach, as well as secure the future of this vital program."

The program pays up to half of the medical education debt of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who agree to serve at least five years in a community designated as rural, economically distressed or one experiencing a shortage of health care professionals. Currently, 95 health care professionals in 50 counties are participating in the program. Since the program's inception, 73% of the participating health care professionals have stayed in rural or economically distressed counties beyond their five-year commitment, and 85% have remained in North Carolina.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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