The UNC School of Medicine is pleased to announce the acceptance of the sixth class of the Fully Integrated Readiness for Service Training (FIRST) Program. The FIRST Program was established in 2015 and provides participants the opportunity to complete their medical degree in three years, instead of four, and includes a conditional acceptance into an affiliated North Carolina Residency program. Following training, scholars will take part in three years of service in a rural and/or underserved area of North Carolina. They will receive ongoing support from UNC Department of Family Medicine in partnership with the NC Office of Rural Health.
Medical students Annie Peacock, Branden Mabe, Carol Tran, Delia LoSapio, Laura Sheridan, Natalie Barnette, Olivia Brown, and William Garrison have been accepted into this year’s accelerated medical curriculum. These students were selected based on their commitment to the following specialties: Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and General Surgery. The program expansion is supported by the American Medical Association Reimagining Residency Program.
The Director of the FIRST Program, Dr. Catherine Coe noted, “These students were selected for their commitment to their chosen specialties and caring for the underserved. We are thrilled to continue close collaborations with partners across the state to train the future workforce.”
FIRST is one-of-a-kind, showing great commitment from UNC and affiliated partners to make a difference in the health of North Carolinians who need access to care. These latest scholars will complete their medical school training in May 2023, enter residency, and begin practicing medicine in an underserved NC community as early as 2026 (depending on the specialty).
Annie Peacock (Family Medicine) received her BA in Women and Gender Studies and Masters of Social Work at UNC. Her work as therapist with folks living with serious mental illness led her to family medicine as an incredible avenue to treat the entire person.
Branden Mabe (Family Medicine) is from Laurel Springs, NC. His interests include LGBTQ+ health, sexual health, and alleviating health disparities in underserved communities. He looks forward to providing comprehensive primary care to the people of North Carolina after finishing his training. “As a family physician, I aim to provide compassionate, nonjudgmental healthcare to my patients and to be a resource for those who feel unheard.”
Carol Tran (Psychiatry) is from Charlotte, NC. Growing up in the Asian American community, she worked as an interpreter in urban health clinics and observed the lack of mental health awareness and resources. Compelled to pursue psychiatry, she plans to gain a deeper understanding of health disparities in various cultures.
Delia LoSapio (Family Medicine) a Raleigh, NC native, attended the University of Lynchburg where she majored in Biomedical Science and minored in History, Health Promotions, and Gender Studies. Delia was a 4-year member of both the university’s volunteer EMS squad and Women’s Soccer team. Her passion for travel and service took her on a study abroad trip to Uganda and Kenya during which she witnessed first-hand the impacts of disparities on health outcomes. Her experiences there further motivated her to pursue Family Medicine where she is looking forward to developing long-term relationships with her patients.
Laura Sheridan (Psychiatry), is from Raleigh, NC. After studying child psychology in undergraduate and mood disorders at the NIH in her gap years, she came to appreciate the need for quality mental health resources. She hopes the fast-paced program and earlier clinical integration will allow her to better provide for underserved and LGBTQ+ communities, especially as the long-term mental health effects of the current pandemic become clear.
Natalie Barnette (General Surgery), has spent all of her life in North Carolina. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles to earn her undergraduate degree in Psychobiology. After returning to her home state, she worked as a surgical assistant in skin cancer removal procedures. “I aspire to serve as a comprehensive general surgeon to North Carolina’s rural underserved communities.”
Oliva Brown (Pediatrics), is originally from Andrews, North Carolina. She is the inaugural FIRST scholar to pursue pediatrics. Growing up in western North Carolina, Olivia was exposed to many of the negative effects that lack of access to healthcare can have on small rural communities. Through these formative experiences, she developed a deep passion for working with patients in rural areas. “I believe that life-long health starts with quality pediatrics care that not only treats the stuffy nose or sore throat, but also provides the education that will be needed to become a healthy adult.”
William Garrison (Family Medicine), is from Rocky Mount, NC. Before coming to medical school, he served as a MedServe Fellow in Hayesville, NC where he developed his passion for family medicine. Will is excited to continue serving his NC neighbors and help them live well.
For more information about the FIRST program, visit the website https://www.med.unc.edu/md/studentscholars/first/.