70 of 80 rural NC counties lack sufficient health care. Today We are tackling the problem head-on.
North Carolina is projected to have severe primary care and nursing shortages, especially in rural areas. We’ve pledged to help fill the gap.
A recent study showed that North Carolina is projected to have the second largest nursing shortage in the country. This deficit—a staggering 12,900 nurses—is most strongly felt in rural counties with large minority populations.1 These areas have been called “medical deserts” and are in desperate need of more qualified health care professionals.
Blue Cross NC has pledged to help fill this gap. We are investing $1 million each in the nursing programs at North Carolina Central University, Fayetteville State University, Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T—four historically black universities. We’re also making additional investments in the UNC School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Studies Program, or UNC PA program, which is committed to reducing the severe shortage of primary care providers in rural North Carolina. Designed with input from Fort Bragg Army officials, the UNC PA program focuses on recruiting returning veterans and North Carolina residents. Investments will go toward scholarships, student and faculty recruitment and retention, and helping fund students’ training experience.
Investing in these premier programs will promote better health and help lower costs for everyone. First, it will increase access to care in our state’s medical deserts. And second, it will strengthen our shared commitment to promote a more diverse medical community. This is especially important since patients typically feel safer when they are culturally connected to their health care providers.
These graduates will become part of a medical community that makes sure every one of us can be healthy—no matter what community we live in.