A pair of Brody alumni recently received a distinguished award for their contributions to teaching and mentoring the next generation of family physicians.
Dr. Bryan Bunn ’10 and Dr. Jeremy Sexton ’11 were selected to receive a 2018 Community Teaching Award from the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Foundation.
Brody School of Medicine alums Dr. Bryan Bunn, left, and Dr. Jeremy Sexton were selected to receive a 2018 Community Teaching Award from the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. (Photos by Rob Spahr)
The Community Teaching Award honors and recognizes dedicated family physicians who sacrifice their time in the interest of advancing the principles and ideals of family medicine by teaching and mentoring the next generation of physicians.
The Brody alumni received a commemorative plaque, a cash award and recognition at NCAFP’s State-of-the Academy Address & Awards Lunch in Asheville on Nov. 30.
Bunn and Sexton both practice at Vidant Family and Sports Medicine-Edenton in Edenton.
Sexton said he was thankful to be chosen for the Community Teaching Award and that it helps validate efforts to do something beneficial for the people of the region.
“We’re not only providing health care to people who really need it in eastern North Carolina, but also kind of bringing a good example of what primary care can be like to people who are going through the process of deciding what specialty that they’re interested in committing to,” he said. “Hopefully the people who come through here are able to see that we do a lot of different stuff and it stays interesting. So hopefully we can get more medical students committed to primary care.”
Dr. Jeremy Sexton
Even though the Edenton practice is extremely busy – due in large part to the shortage of primary care physicians in the region – Sexton said he has enjoyed the experience of having students around.
“It’s nice to work with learners because most of the time they’re still really excited about medicine and sometimes when you are busy, you don’t always remember that ‘Oh yeah, this is pretty cool,’” he said.
Returning to North Carolina to practice after completing his residency training in Idaho was particularly meaningful to Sexton.
“I was in med school in Greenville not too long ago and the mission statement is kind of embedded into everything that Brody does. They really do want to turn out primary care providers who stick around in this part of the state because there is such a big need here,” he said. “If you work in primary care, you can work anywhere you want. There are five openings on the big island of Hawaii right now. I’m in Edenton, North Carolina, and I love it.”
Sexton said one piece of advice he would offer current medical students is to get as much clinical experience as possible.
“Meet or find a doctor that is doing something similar to what you imagine doing, so that you can see what kind of pitfalls they’ve experienced and things that would be helpful to navigate,” he said. “It’s an ever-evolving process and it’s going to keep changing. So it’s helpful to know someone who does something very similar to what you want to do, to get advice from.”
Bunn, a Greenville native, said he appreciates all the ways his Brody experience taught him to treat the patient, not the illness.
“Brody did a good job of continuing to emphasize that the academics are important, and the learning is extremely important, but don’t forget about the patient,” he said. “Don’t forget the history and physical, don’t forget about the social aspects and that the patient might not be able to afford these medicines.”
Dr. Bryan Bunn
Caring for patients has a different meaning for Bunn and Sexton than it does for primary care physicians in many other parts of the country, they said. In their medically underserved area of northeastern North Carolina, there are only about a half dozen primary care doctors caring for patients across nine counties.
“Between the two of us, there are about 2,000 patients who call us their primary care provider,” said Bunn, adding that their clinic is fairly unique because it offers colonoscopies, inpatient medicine, pediatrics, outpatient medicine and sports medicine – all in one location.
Working in a practice that allows him to use, on a daily basis, more of the skills he learned in medical school and residency is exciting for Bunn, who completed his residency at North Colorado Family Medicine.
“It’s refreshing from my own intellectual standpoint and from what I want to do with medicine. So I appreciate the opportunity that Vidant has afforded us with flexibility and autonomy to do what we do,” he said. “We’re an underserved area and this is needed.”
Bunn said the Community Teaching Award is a meaningful recognition for him, because he never expected to be a “teacher” after choosing a career in medicine. He hopes medical students who are interested in primary care can see all of the opportunities available to them when they spend time in his clinic.
“Having the opportunity to see med students come through and to think that you’re giving back to them is really cool,” he said. “And you learn from them as well, because medicine is always changing. So it’s definitely an honor to know that med students think that we’re helping them too.”
-by Laura McFall Bond and Rob Spahr, University Communications