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Grant to help ECU place medical residents in communities

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Nov. 4, 2011)   —   A federal grant will help East Carolina University place family medicine residents in underserved communities in eastern North Carolina.

The five-year, $480,739 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration will fund clinical rotations for residents in Snow Hill, Bethel, Kinston, Belhaven, Pembroke, Williamston and Ahoskie. The project will begin by the end of the year. ECU is the only school in North Carolina to receive a residency training grant.

During the five-year project, more than 80 family medicine residents will have an opportunity to participate.

"The primary goal of this project is to connect residents to rural areas for meaningful experiences that engender an appreciation for and knowledge of continuity of care and the role and lifestyle of the rural family medicine physician," said Dr. Christopher Duffrin, an educational specialist in the Department of Family Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and principal investigator on the project.

Project leaders hope the program will help attract physicians to local communities to provide health care in eastern North Carolina.

Residents will work in community clinics, health centers and physician practices. The rotations will allow them to gain experience caring for injuries and illnesses unique to rural areas, such as environmental illness and injury, agricultural injuries and rural workplace illness and injuries as well as completing community based research experiences focused on rural community health challenges. The grant will also fund research on how to assist rural, underserved counties in meeting their health workforce needs.

The communities will benefit by having additional medical professionals to provide health care.

Residents are physicians who are completing additional training after medical school. Nearly all medical graduates complete residencies in a specialty before entering practice. A family medicine residency is three years. Residents are supervised by experienced physicians.

Helping lead the project are co-principal investigators Drs. Jonathon Firnhaber, Gary Levine and Ricky Watson, who are family medicine faculty members at ECU.

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Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482