Medical School Expansion on Hold Due to Economy

UNC’s proposed regional medical schools in Charlotte and Asheville have been put on hold indefinitely due to a lack of funding related to a decline in overall state revenues.

The plan, which would have had students entering the regional campuses affiliated with hospitals in those cities in 2011, was approved by the UNC System Board of Governors in March 2008 and originally was delayed last summer, after the N.C. General Assembly did not approve funding.

Now, UNC’s two-year spending request for 2009 will not mention the proposed medical school expansion.

“There’s no money,” said Karen McCall, UNC Health Care vice president. “Everybody recognizes that. ‘On hold’ is the best description for it.”

The plan was for UNC to grow its first-year classes to 230 from 160 students, starting in fall 2010, to meet the needs of the state’s growing population – and to place some third- and fourth-year students in Charlotte and Asheville. An internal study over the past two years concluded that the UNC expansion was more efficient than building a new free-standing school in Charlotte.

The cost, which includes an expansion of the medical school at East Carolina University, is estimated at $450 million over 10 years. Charlotte and Asheville would need facilities costing about $30 million each.

Related material is available online:

  • Medicine: The Cost of Expansion: If there’s one thing a growing state needs, it’s doctors, and Carolina’s medical school is on the verge of some serious bulking-up. From the November/December 2008 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to GAA members.

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