Helping solve a health care shortage

Less than a year after she earned her degree from Carolina, Misty Cox is already putting her skills to work — and helping make North Carolinians healthier in the process. Cox, a 2016 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, is one of 13 fellows participating in MedServe, a program focused on helping solve the problem of health care shortages across North Carolina.

“The need for family medicine doctors in underserved communities is really great,” Cox said. “They’re kind of a first line of defense, and a lot of times have knowledge that can help individuals to keep them out of emergency rooms.”

Since the MedServe program launched in the fall of 2016, its 13 fellows have helped care for nearly 6,000 patients in North Carolina, said MedServe co-founder and UNC School of Medicine student Patrick O’Shea. He compares MedServe’s mission to that of Teach for America, but with a health care focus. Instead of putting teachers in classrooms, the program connects recent college graduates with health care clinics in rural or underserved communities to assist often-overwhelmed medical providers to help patients get the care they need.

“Although our fellows don’t have medical assistant training, they can still be really useful on a day-to-day level,” O’Shea said. “They’re able to help their physicians see more patients.”

Cox, a Burke County native, is serving close to home, at the Mountain Area Rural Health Education Center in Asheville. In addition to helping take patients’ vital signs and assisting physicians with their patient notes, she helps promote wellness through a community outreach program.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Cox said. “Being here has really pushed me to think about family medicine in the future. Being able to see the whole person and treat the whole person has become extremely important to me.”

MedServe, which was recently recognized by the Renewal Project as one of the top innovators of 2016will soon be accepting applications for its next class of fellows. You can learn more about the program here.

Story and video by Rob Holliday, Office of University Communications and Public Affairs
Published January 5, 2017