Gardner-Webb University, a private, Christian, Baptist-related university, provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate education that is strongly grounded in the liberal arts while offering opportunities to prepare for various professions. Fostering meaningful intellectual thought, critical analysis, and spiritual challenge within a diverse community of learning, Gardner-Webb is dedicated to higher education that integrates scholarship with Christian life. By embracing faith and intellectual freedom, balancing conviction with compassion, and inspiring a love of learning, service, and leadership, Gardner-Webb prepares its graduates to make significant contributions for God and humanity in an ever-changing global community.
In 2011, the Commonwealth Fund ranked North Carolina 41st (out of 51) in its overall healthcare delivery, 32nd in access to care, and 32nd in prevention and treatment when compared to other U.S. states. To meet the same standards as the number one state, North Carolina would need to (1) insure 762,465 adults and 185,512 children, (2) provide preventive care to 124,733 adults aged 50 and older, (3) provide preventive services to 131,627 diabetics over 18, (4) give routine childhood vaccinations to 23,609 children, and (5) prevent 3,432 premature deaths under the age of 75 (The Commonwealth Fund, 2011).
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2013), 91 of 100 North Carolina counties fail to meet the citizen to primary care provider benchmark of 1,067:1. Twenty-six (26) counties have a citizen to primary care provider ratio over 3,000 to 1. Gates County is the worst with a ratio of 12,192 to 1. It should be noted that in 2012, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation citizen to primary care provider benchmark was 631:1, considerably less than the 2013 ratio of 1,067:1.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2013) also reports primary care benchmark shortcomings in 100 North Carolina Counties. Deficiencies were noted in diabetic screenings (71 of 100), mammogram screenings (80 of 100), smoking (82 or 87), obesity (89 of 100), alcohol abuse (76 of 89), teen pregnancy (98 of 100), and preventable hospital days (93 of 100). Finally, based on the U.S. norm, North Carolina Counties have a high percentage of citizens who are either not insured or insured through Medicaid or Medicare. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation benchmark for insured citizens was NOT met in 100 of 100 counties; citizens insured through Medicaid was above national standards (14%) in 80 of 100 counties; and North Carolinians insured by Medicare was above the national standards (15%) (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2013; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2013).
Finally, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (2012), there is an imminent shortage of primary care physicians. The organization believes population growth will exceed the projected growth in primary care providers. Compounding the problem, nearly half of the North Carolinas practicing physicians are over 50 and approaching retirement age. The report believes these issues come at a time when the state is already experiencing a primary care provider shortage in rural areas (American Association of Medical Colleges, 2012).
In accordance with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) entry-level standards, the Gardner-Webb University School of Physician Assistant Studies design prepares experts in the field of primary care practice. Gardner-Webb hopes to attract students focused on providing medical service in under served communities. The PA Program will be a practice oriented master’s degree program designed to accommodate students with a bachelor’s degree, diverse educational background, and an aptitude toward patient care.