Drexel Announces Cape Fear Valley Health System as Regional Medical Campus

Drexel University’s College of Medicine announced Cape Fear Valley Health System as a new regional medical campus option for students, starting in May 2022. Through an affiliation agreement, Drexel medical students will have the opportunity to select the health system for their required clinical rotations in the third and fourth years of their education.

The two organizations signed the affiliation agreement in January, followed by approval by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education for the regional medical campus designation.

“Third- and fourth-year clerkships are a transformative period for an aspiring physician,” said Charles B. Cairns, MD, senior vice president of Medical Affairs and dean of the College of Medicine. “This collaboration will be another setting available to our students where they can treat diverse patient populations and chart out their future in medicine.”

The latest move helps expand the geographic scope of one of the nation’s largest medical colleges. Today, Drexel University College of Medicine trains 1,100 medical students, 1 in 83 medical students in the United States. The college also spans 900 graduate students and 2,700 full-time, part-time and volunteer faculty. In addition to its Philadelphia-based Queen Lane campus, the college opened a four-year regional medical campus, the College of Medicine at Tower Health in West Reading, in August 2021.

“We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Drexel,” said Cape Fear Valley Health System CEO Michael Nagowski. “The need for more entries into the health care workforce in southeastern North Carolina is great. The partnership with Drexel will support our efforts to expand the health care workforce.”

This new agreement will not affect existing relationships, including the College of Medicine’s existing regional medical campuses at Allegheny Health Network, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente-Bay Area, UPMC Harrisburg, WellSpan York Hospital, and its four-year medical campus at Tower Health- Reading Hospital. Cape Fear Valley Health System will also continue to work with other programs and their respective medical students, including those who stay in the region for graduate medical training as residents.

Multiple factors contribute to what the Association of American Medical Colleges suggests may be a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians in the United States by 2034. The organization reports that more than two of every five active physicians in the U.S. will turn 65 or older within the next decade. From 2019 to 2034, the U.S. population is projected to grow by 10.6%, from about 328 million to 363 million, and those aged 65 and above are projected to increase 42.4% -- which may lead to greater need in the years ahead for clinicians that treat older patients.