Cape Fear Valley CEO Mike Nagowski and Methodist University President Stanley T. Wearden announced the new medical school coming in July of 2026 in Fayetteville.

Methodist University will now have a medical school, thanks to a new partnership with Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, the organizations announced Monday.

Beginning in July 2026, Methodist University will have a medical school in a new facility on the campus of Cape Fear Valley, in Fayetteville. Cape Fear Valley Health System CEO Mike Nagowski and Methodist University President Stanley T. Wearden announced the program at a news conference.

“The partnership between Methodist University and Cape Fear Valley Health is a significant milestone in the history of medical education in Southeastern North Carolina and for the growth of Methodist University,” a release from Methodist University said. “The new medical school will be an important contributor to the healthcare industry, addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals and improving the quality of healthcare delivery – while also following the mission of providing better medical care for rural and underserved populations and diversifying the physician workforce.”

Cape Fear Valley is no stranger to unique partnerships with local higher education. The hospital system has a residency program with Campbell University that has been running for several years, allowing med school students at the school to get hands on experience locally. There is also an internship program with Fayetteville State University in place. Those programs are important, as it helps to hopefully keep highly-trained doctors in the community.

“If you look at statistically, almost 70 percent of the physicians that come to get their degrees stay in the community they attended medical school and their physician residency in that community,” Nagowski said. “That’s staying power. Think about your own careers. If you went through pre-med and then medical school, and then did 3-to-7 years of post-medical school work, you’ve developed roots in the community.”

Nagowski said so far, with just residency programs in place, around 50 percent have stayed in the community after completion.

“We are excited to create a new medical school that will provide students with highly innovative medical education combined with local clinical experiences,” Wearden said. “This partnership is a tremendous opportunity for our institution to engage with Cape Fear Valley Health to address the shortage of healthcare professionals, particularly in rural areas, and to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, which will enrich the local community and beyond. The focus of this medical school on rural and underserved populations is a perfect match for MU’s service-focused mission, and the focus on a health-systems approach to medical education fits well with our longstanding liberal arts tradition.”

An exhaustive licensing process is underway for the program, and officials said that should take roughly 18 months.

“We’re anticipating starting out at 80 students per year,” Wearden said. “We’ll be growing to 120 students per year over time. That’s the maximum cap we’re asking to have approved.”

Wearden said there is not a Dean for the Methodist University medical school program yet, but there is a strong candidate that will go through the vetting process, with announcement coming sometime later this year.