MOUNT OLIVE — The Waylin Area Foundation has awarded a $24,000 grant payable over the next four years to a new family nurse practitioner at Mount Olive Family Medicine Center.
The grant was awarded this month to Meghan Slaughter Brown, a Mount Olive native who started her new role at Mount Olive Family Medicine in October.
Previously, Brown worked for WATCH, the mobile medical unit that serves Wayne County’s residents and is operated by Wayne UNC Health Care. The grant will be used to help offset Brown’s graduate school loans.
“We are proud to be able to use these funds to assist Meghan in this way,” said Ernie Taylor, chairman of the Waylin Area Foundation. “This is what the physician’s recruitment program was designed to do — help young people come back home and practice medicine in their community.”
Waylin’s physician’s recruitment program was launched in the 1990s to provide medical school scholarships for local students who intended to return home to practice medicine.
Dr. Kevin Talton, the medical director of Mount Olive Family Medicine, was the first recipient. Under the program, medical providers are required to work at a practice in the community one year for each year they received a Waylin scholarship.
The demand for medical school loan assistance has waned in recent years, in part because medical staffing locally has been fairly stable for some time.
Also, more federal and state resources for this purpose are available to nonprofit rural health centers like Mount Olive Family Medicine and Goshen Medical Center.
In Brown’s case, a technicality prevented her from being eligible for that assistance, and the Waylin Area Foundation was able to help.
“We are so thankful to have this resource available,” said Lisa Hooks, executive director Mount Olive Family Medicine. “It is a big help to Meghan.”
Moving forward, the Waylin Area Foundation will use its physician’s recruitment funds to assist with travel assistance for prospective candidates and moving expenses for new hires, as needed.
“This addresses a specific need — the rural health centers can’t provide reimbursement for travel for candidates or moving expense for new hires, and state and federal resources aren’t available for those purposes, either,” Taylor said. “This gives our local health centers an edge in recruiting new medical providers to the community.”
The Waylin Area Foundation was established by the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, and for years it has operated with four focus areas: physicians’ recruitment, education, crime prevention and the promotion of agriculture through the North Carolina Pickle Festival.