PEMBROKE – Obesity. Heart disease. Diabetes. Southeast North Carolina faces persistent health problems – Robeson County, in fact, has ranked last in the state in health for the last three years.1
Access to care is key, Provost David Ward of the University of North Carolina Pembroke says in the accompanying video.
“The state may have an ample supply of physicians, nurses, physician assistants. They may not,” Ward says. “One thing we know – they’re not geographically distributed where many of the needs are.
“It’s our belief that expanding our health-care programming can have an enormous impact on Southeast North Carolina – and the health of Southeast North Carolinians directly,” he says.
The university studied the needs extensively2 and established a College of Health Sciences last year.3
If UNCP can expand its existing programs in nursing, social work and mental-health counseling and perhaps build new programs for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and occupational therapy, Ward says, it could only help.
The UNC Board of Governors included $1.1 million for 2019-20 and $2.1 million for 2020-21 in its request to state legislators this year to support the College of Health Sciences.4
“Find out exactly what the most immediate needs are, and then develop professionals who, from day one, want to and are able to work and improve the health of a rural area,” Ward says. “I think all of Southeast North Carolina will benefit.”