Physician's Legacy Continues Through Major Estate Gift

March 13, 2019
resident presenters

New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation has received a $522,585 gift from the Dr. Emile and Dorothy Werk Estate to support its Internal Medicine Residency Program. Each year an outstanding resident will receive $1,000, and the remainder of the annual allotment will help fund the residents’ education and clinical research.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this transformational gift supporting the Internal Medicine Residency Program at New Hanover Regional Medical Center,” said Schorr Davis, Vice President of Development/Executive Director of the NHRMC Foundation. “Dr. Werk’s lifelong commitment and passion for training and educating new physicians will continue due to his generosity.”

The endowment is just one part of the late Dr. Werk’s notable legacy. Dr. Werk was a respected endocrinologist, professor of medicine, and researcher when he came to Wilmington to launch NHRMC’s Internal Medicine Residency Program in 1972. He helped train hundreds of physicians and instilled in them his commitment to providing caring, thorough treatment to all patients.

“Being a teacher was really important to him,” said his son, Stephen Werk. “He wanted to train and prepare physicians to provide comprehensive care with real respect and compassion for the person.”

Dr. Werk held numerous prestigious positions throughout his career. After completing his residency at Virginia Hospital and Cincinnati General Hospital, Dr. Werk was a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for two years. He went on to complete a research fellowship in metabolism under the renowned Dr. Frank Engle at Duke University Hospital. Subsequently, he served as the chief of the metabolism section and associate chief of staff for research at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cincinnati, director of medical education at Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital, research associate at Christ Hospital Institute of Medical Research, and director of the endocrinology laboratory at Cincinnati General Hospital.

Dr. Werk was recruited by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to head the residency program in Internal Medicine at what was then the Wilmington Area Health Education Center. He served as its director until he stepped down in 1986. Dr. Werk continued to work at NHRMC part-time until retiring in 1994.

Dr. Werk also wrote more than 60 articles for medical journals; wrote, co-wrote, or presented more than 40 academic papers; and delivered hundreds of teaching lectures.

Though Dr. Werk passed away on July 17, 2016, his influence lives on. The program he started with just a handful of residents is so respected it now receives thousands of applicants every year.

Dr. Werk also populated the community and state with highly qualified, caring physicians. The patients he reaches through those physicians number in the hundreds of thousands.

“What Dr. Werk has done is provide physicians to our community and underserved areas all over North Carolina,” said Dr. James McCabe, a Wilmington nephrologist and longtime friend and colleague. “These physicians are highly regarded in small towns around Wilmington and throughout North Carolina.”

Dr. Werk would be pleased, though surprised, that his program has had such an impact, said his daughter, Susan Werk.

“He would be overwhelmingly proud of how far the program has come,” she said. “To know it has succeeded to the extent it has would be of the greatest value to him.”
NHRMC’s Residency Programs Supports Physicians and the Community

NHRMC currently has four physician residency programs: internal medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and family medicine. While these programs give physicians exemplary education and experience, they also benefit the community. 

“With the residency programs, NHRMC can serve more patients, and patients have more access to care,” said Dr. Joseph Pino, Vice President of Graduate Medical Education at NHRMC.

As an example, OB/GYN residents deliver about half the babies born at NHRMC, Dr. Pino said. They also treat women who have a high-risk pregnancy and women who are underserved.

All four of our residency programs, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, OB/GYN and Family Medicine, support resident training in local outpatient clinics as well as the hospital. At the clinics, all patients, including those who are underinsured or have no insurance, receive treatment.

NHRMC’s role as a teaching hospital also means that physicians and surgeons who are supervising residents are focused on the latest advancements in medicine.

“Because it’s a residency training program, those attending physicians and surgeons have to be on the cutting edge of care so they can provide instruction to our next generation of physicians,” Dr. Pino said.

Pictured are Internal Medicine residents at NHRMC presenting their research at Emile Werk, MD Internal Medicine Research Day.

For more information on ways to support NHRMC through the NHRMC Foundation, visit or call 910-667-5002.

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