Clinical Week, also know as Community Week, is an awesome opportunity that the UNC School of Medicine provides (and requires of!) first and second year medical students. UNC medical students will spend a total of four separate week-long clinical rotations observing and learning from a North Carolina community-based primary care physician, called a preceptor. Students are assigned to community preceptors from one end of the state to the other - from Murphy to Morehead City.
The school pairs each student with a preceptor who is a physician in one of four areas of medicine: internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine or ob/gyn. Students can request a specific location and area of medicine. The community preceptors play an important role in the clinical training and mentoring of our medical students. Under the supervision of their community preceptors, students practice their newly developing skills in interviewing, physical examination and presenting. For many students these clinical rotations will mark the first time they have had “hands on” experiences with real patients.
Some students use community week to stay with their families or to explore areas of North Carolina they enjoy or have never visited. The school provides housing (referred to as AHEC) for students assigned to locations where they don't have friends or family.
During the first year of medical school, students go to Community Week for a total of two weeks - once in the fall and once in the spring. While working with their preceptors, students are encouraged to practice the skills they learn every week. During the fall Community Week, the focus is mainly on the patient interview. By the spring, first-years have learned proper physical exam techniques and practice various exams. However, the amount of autonomy and individual patient interaction that each medical student experiences during Community Week varies greatly depending on the preceptor.
Students are also encouraged to experience the community they are living in during Clinical Week and must complete a "Community Week Workbook" assignment. For the first workbook, students formally write up a patient interview, research health statistics of their community and are required to provide a "Windshield Tour" of the location. During the second Community Week, the required assignments include attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the community, completing a full patient write-up and reflecting on the impact of religion on patients' lives.
Second-year students also spend two weeks in the community as part of Clinical Week.
Community Week is typically a relaxing week scheduled between blocks to provide students with some clinical experience outside of the stress of the classroom and studying. And, for parents and families living in North Carolina, it can be a great opportunity to spend some time with your student!