Meeting biomedical and health challenges of the state

We sat down with Dean A. Wesley Burks for a Q&A where he talks about the School of Medicine at its 140-year conversation.

Portrait of Dean A. Wesley Burks
Dean A. Wesley Burks


The School of Medicine began 140 years ago with 37 medical students and a two-year curriculum, born in the spirit of service that still guides its faculty, staff and students today.

That teaching model has continued to flourish over the generations. The medical school’s diverse student body now includes more than 1,200 graduate and medical students at four campuses in Chapel Hill, Wilmington, Asheville and Charlotte, with robust teaching sites in Greensboro and Raleigh as well. The medical school attracts students from around the country, and about 40% of each graduating class of medical doctors stay in North Carolina for their residencies. The school ranks first in primary care education, and its research endeavor is ranked sixth among peer public universities in the United States.

Dean A. Wesley Burks shares his vision for the School of Medicine.



What is the mission of the School of Medicine?

At the School of Medicine, our mission is to improve the health and well-being of all the people of North Carolina. We accomplish this mission in three ways: clinical care,
research and education. We do it through the highest quality of clinical care, so that people in North Carolina don’t have to leave the state to get the care that they need. We do it through life-changing research and innovative education that will train the next generation of physicians serving the people of North Carolina, all built on the twin pillars of empathy and expertise.

What is your vision for the School of Medicine?

When we look to the future, we know our diverse and collaborative environment will allow us to meet the biomedical and health challenges with the same spirit of service and innovation, empathy and expertise that founded our school of medicine and this great university.

What is your goal for faculty?

The health care environment has been rapidly changing, which is why we developed our Translational Education at Carolina curriculum to provide a more student-centric, patient-based way of learning. TEC integrates the use of simulation models, technology and training in collaborative ways similar to the team care found in clinics and hospitals. With TEC, our professors and staff introduce students to clinical work immediately, instead of waiting until year three of medical school. 

What is your goal for students?

In 2022, our students will receive much of their training in a new, state-of-the-art medical education building, an eight-floor facility that will include a large active learning theater, flexible labs, learning and study spaces designed to heighten collaboration, and two floors dedicated to developing clinical skills through simulated learning. With this new building, we will be able to expand our class size from 190 to 240 students, helping us meet the increasing demand for physicians across North Carolina.