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Summer is over and fall has officially landed. As we continue in this ever changing and often times frustrating landscape we remain hopeful for the future and strive to show up as our best selves daily. In this edition read about the exciting summer programming provided by ORI and see our first Kenan Spotlight as we highlight alumni who continue to show their dedication to reducing health disparities in rural North Carolina.


Despite dealing with COVID-19 and delayed permission for students to be in clinic, we were fortunate to continue our relationships with our preceptors across the state that allowed our Scholars to obtain hands on experience, mentorship, team building and deepen their commitment to future rural practice. See below for reflections, videos and a map of their placements.

kenan summer 2020

Christina Williams-

Michael McLendon– “I spent my 2020 Kenan summer working with Dr. Blair and the team of Island Family Medicine in Surf City, NC. And work I did! Instead of simply shadowing him, Dr. Blair empowered me to interview and assess patients on my own before he saw them. I also got a lot of hands on experience with point-of-care ultrasound, helped with procedures (which he does a lot of!), and learned some about the business of rural family medicine from a physician with years of experience running a successful practice. Moreover, I did all of this between my first and second years of medical school. The fact that I was able to enjoy this opportunity at all during the COVID-19 pandemic speaks to the support that the Kenan Program affords its students, and more broadly to UNC’s commitment to primary care. Of course, that’s why I chose UNC, but this summer was reaffirming for me nonetheless!”

Joline Hartheimer– “It was so inspiring this summer to work with Dr. Keith Whiteman and Dr. Kelly Garcia at a rural federally-qualified health center in Haywood County. I watched them compassionately care for patients with substance abuse disorders, provide critical mental health treatment in an area with a psychiatry shortage, transition to video and phone visits to protect their patients and staff, and turn their clinic parking lot into a COVID-19 testing center each afternoon. They provided such a breadth and depth of care to the community with very limited resources, and I came away from the summer with renewed motivation to learn all I can to help underserved communities.”

Kenan Urban Scholars Are Back

We are pleased to announce the revamp of our Kenan Urban Scholars Program which is now through partnership with Wake Med led by Dr. Rasheeda Monroe. Over the summer the six scholars were able to engage in clinical exposure and community engagement and outreach efforts. We look forward to the great things to come out of this partnership.

sophia mcfarlane
Sophia McFarlane
megan pugh
Megan Pugh
aaron morris
Aaron Morris
aalia shariff
Aalia Shariff
richard ansa beckett
Richard Ansa-Beckett
makayla jones
Makayla Jones

Undergraduate Rural Medical Project

In addition to Kenan Scholars, we also provided support to students from the Undergraduate Rural Medicine Program which is composed of pre-med students from underserved rural populations within North Carolina who want to make a lasting impact within their communities. The program is the result of a conversation between the UNC School of Medicine and the Carolina Covenant program seeking to increase the number of students from rural NC applying to and being accepted to UNC School of Medicine.

Rural Med Project—

Kenan Spotlight

Rivers Woodard, one of the first students to be a Kenan Rural Primary Scholar, shares his journey of becoming a practicing Primary Care physician below. He is an awesome example of program success and a fantastic resource who loves sharing his knowledge and experiences.


“In the photo I’m holding a map of Rutherford County which still smells of the Elmer gluestick that I used to hold it together. In reality, what I am trying to piece together is not a photo for the Kenan newsletter, but rather a mental image of the place where I hope to embed myself as a rural family doc. Having grown up in Macon County, two hours to the west of here, I know very little about where each small community is located within Rutherford County, where the senior center is to be found, or where one might go for a short hike. What I do know is that community and sense of place are critical parts of being rural.

I didn’t always have plans to return to WNC to practice medicine, but during my time as a Kenan Scholar I began to build a rural identity as a physician-advocate rooted in this area. What I am most grateful for in the Kenan Scholars Program, and in particular Dr. Bashford, is the flexibility of the unwavering support that I have received. This flexibility allowed Brittany Papworth and me to create Project PROMISE to support rural high school students interested in a career in healthcare and it allowed me to get my MBA so that I might understand and impact additional drivers of how we deliver care. For others, the flexibility led to an MPH or a year abroad. Unlike some of the rigid federal and state programs designed to place physicians in rural areas, I believe that Dr. Bashford understood that by nurturing our individuality and helping us to find our own paths back to “rual,” he was helping to train future physicians for whom rural medicine is more than just a commitment – what I found is a calling.

I often joke that residency was the slowest, fastest three years of my life. For those of you that have multiple years left in your training, I have three seeds to plant: create a cognitive anchor to your idealistic visionname and engage with your moral suffering lest it become injury, and learn how much money you need to be happy and stop there.

Please reach out if any of you all want to be co-conspirators and co-inspirers – we need each other more than ever.”

News and Resources

Use the following link to the National Health Service Corps to learn about loan repayment and service.

Join us November 18th at 5pm for an insightful, informative and robust book discussion of Blood Done Signed My Name by Timothy Tyson who will be joining us to facilitate the discussion.

The application to the Kenan Rural Primary Care Scholar Program (open to UNCSOM MS1s) is now open

Kenans in the News

See our own Caleb Smith featured in the latest edition of The Well.

Behind the mask: Caleb Smith