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UNC School of Medicine ranked No. 1 for primary care

A top national ranking for the UNC School of Medicine means more than prestige to its leaders — it means a continued commitment to treating North Carolina’s patients.

The school was ranked No. 1 for primary care by U.S. News & World Report this year for the first time, the school announced on March 12.

Dr. Bill Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, said the ranking — featured in the magazine’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” 2014 issue — is a great achievement, and primary care has continuously been a strong part of the school’s program.

“We need more doctors, and this ranking as number one in primary care is something we want people across the state to know about because it’s such an important part of delivering medical care these days,” he said.

The school, which enrolls 782 students, also tied for 22nd in overall research and ranked second in family medicine, fifth in rural medicine and tied for ninth in AIDS.

Roper said that since the school was ranked by its peers, it’s clear that the rest of the country recognizes the program’s strength.

“We are a medical school that does a tremendous job of training medical students and residents in the primary care specialties, and do it with a strong commitment to research and teaching together,” he said.

Dr. Warren Newton, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and vice dean for education in the school, said the primary care ranking reflects a team effort and a commitment to health care reform.

“We played a role in statewide initiatives like improving roles in practice that don’t just help in Chapel Hill but also for the state,” he said.

“Many people look at North Carolina, at what we have done, as a model of where they need to go.”

Roper said he thinks the ranking can be attributed to the strong faculty at the school.

“We’ve continued to have a faculty that are viewed across the country as leaders,” he said.

Newton speculated that the No. 2 ranking for family medicine is a result of work in new teaching initiatives.

“Over the last years there’s been a lot of innovation of how to design practice and how to care for the uninsured,” he said.

Cameron Watkins, fourth-year medical student, said the School of Medicine does a great job of accommodating students’ needs in a constantly changing field.

“There’s a great devotion to teaching,” she said. “We have this history of great professors who are intelligent enough and open enough to change and accept different ideas that people come up with in terms of learning styles.

“I hope the ranking will make UNC more competitive and respected because our teachers go above and beyond, and this ranking just proves that this is the case.”

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