Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are summer vacations like? Will my medical student have free time to travel with family, and if so, when?

A:  After the first year of medical school, students will have roughly three months of free time over the summer. This is probably the best time to schedule that big family vacation, as after the first year, summers get more hectic with service trip opportunities, projects, clinical rotations, and exams.

Q: What is the role of the faculty advisor?

A: Faculty Advisors assist medical students with navigating their first year in the program and beyond. Areas of assistance include: curriculum questions, academic struggles, social/work balance, focus/specialty choices, etc. As they approach fourth year, students will be assigned a career goal advisor.

Q: What is SHAC?

A: SHAC is the acronym for the Student Health Action Coalition, a public health clinic staffed by medical students which is open to any member of the community. The clinic occurs weekly on Wednesday nights, and affords the opportunity for medical students to develop their clinical skills and collaborate with other allied health students and professionals.

Q: Some schools are more collegial, while some are more competitive. Where does Carolina fall in terms of atmosphere?

A: The UNC School of Medicine is centered on a very collaborative environment. The entire first year of medical school here is pass/fail, so competition is not as much of a factor as it may be at other schools, and students are encouraged to build relationships with classmates. Of course, competitive drive will vary between individual students, even within this collegial atmosphere.

Q: I'm concerned about safety during international service/study opportunities. What does the UNC School of Medicine do to ensure my student's safety abroad?

A: UNC is very invested in the safety of our students. There are very strict criteria a nation must meet before the School of Medicine will sponsor travel there, and all students going abroad in a medical student capacity must notify the Office of International Affairs. Insurance is required, and the whereabouts of all medical students are tracked at all times. Keep in mind that even places experiencing conflict are not necessarily entirely unsafe, and that political stability is always a factor in deciding whether to go ahead with a planned trip.

Q: What are community/clinical weeks? How are students selected, and how is their progress monitored?

A: Students are assigned to practices in areas across the state, in coordination with local AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) chapters. The mission of these community/clinical weeks is to show students how a community practice works. Students fill out a preference form in preparation for community/clinical weeks. These preferences will be taken into account, but the UNC School of Medicine cannot make any guarantees in terms of placement.

Q: Will medical students be able to participate in programs/activities on main campus?

A: Yes! All undergraduate activities are open to medical students as well. Students may choose to participate in a wide variety of extra-curriculars, including intramural sports, vocal ensembles, attending lectures, etc. It's important to encourage your student to maintain balance between what they're passionate about and their medical education workload.

Q: Do MD/PhD students have different experiences from those enrolled in a traditional medical school curriculum?

A: For the first two years, MD/PhD students move through their basic sciences curriculum with traditional medical students and have a very similar experience. After this point, they join a research lab where they'll spend a few years working on the research portion of their degrees. Once the research portion is complete, these students will return to complete their third and fourth year clinical studies.

Q: I've heard about campuses in other communities: Asheville and Charlotte. Can you explain these satellite campuses?

A: These two satellite campuses are aimed at clinical years three and four. Students may apply to complete their entire third year and fourth at either of these locations. The students who "remain at UNC" will actually spend this time completing rotations at different locations throughout the state. The Asheville program is an integrative clerkship, where students are assigned outpatient clinics in each area of practice throughout the week, so they end up with a panel of patients they work with and build relationships with other time.

Q: Does UNC expect to see any changes to medical school curriculum as a result of budgetary cuts?

A: UNC does a great job of limiting financial impact on our teaching mission, so we do not expect to see any impact on curriculum as a result of budgetary issues. Where we may see cuts, however, is a delay in new capital projects such as a new medical education building.