Skip to main content

UNC School of Medicine Asheville

Information about Longitudinal Integrated Curriculum

Introduction:

  • UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus opened in July 2009 with the support of UNC School of Medicine, Mission Health, and Mountain AHEC. Beginning with four students, we expanded to 20 students in 2014, 30 students in 2020-21, and currently have 35 students in 2021-22.
  • The foundation of this program, a longitudinal integrated curriculum, is similar to the “Cambridge Model.” In 2004, Harvard restructured their third year clerkships to place a cohort of students in outpatient settings for the majority of their curriculum, which allowed students to follow “their patients” in all health care settings.
  • Longitudinal integrated clerkships (LICs) have the following core principles:
    • Relationship and continuity of the four Ps:
      • Preceptors
      • Patients
      • Place
      • Peers
    • Active, hands on roles with patients
    • Flexibility of unscheduled half days for self directed learning

The Asheville community, with its robust primary care services and diverse specialty practice settings, provides an ideal setting for this type of curriculum. (Reference: Latessa R, Beaty N, Royal K, Colvin G, Pathman DE, Heck J. Academic Outcomes of a Community-Based Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships Program. Med Teach 2015; 37(9):862-867).

  • The longitudinal curriculum utilizes a cadre of dedicated teachers and a greater reliance on outpatient teaching. Students have more exposure to experienced practicing physicians and a much greater likelihood of seeing the same patients over an extended period of time and through the continuum of care.
  • The Individualization Phase reverts to block schedules and presents opportunities for rotations in Asheville and rural WNC, as well as Chapel Hill or across the state, nation, or internationally.

What students say about the program:

Lucas John
Lucas JohnHey everyone! My name is Lucas John, and I am a Family Medicine FIRST student at MAHEC. I attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. While in college, I gave tours for prospective undergrad students, served as a counselor for Camp Kesem, and helped found UNC’s chapter of Be The Match on Campus. Outside of school, I was a member of the Summit Church, which offered opportunities for personal growth and service in the community. It was during my undergrad studies that I developed a passion for mental health. The integration of behavioral health in all aspects of medicine along with the privilege of being able to connect with patients on a physical, mental, and spiritual level as a physician steered me towards pursuing primary care.

Having spent some time in Asheville prior to Application Phase through the FIRST program, I can personally attest to the excellent quality of education at the Asheville campus. The white space time offers an underrated amount of flexibility for individual curricular opportunities, research, studying/assignments, or even personal free time. I have utilized white space to attend family medicine procedure clinic, do extra ED shifts, experience rural medicine, and follow my preceptor into Mission for deliveries. By having your core rotations longitudinally, you benefit from the spaced repetition of clinical experiences. In addition, you can build long-term relationships with your preceptors and patients. In many cases, this allows you to attend specialist visits with you patients or follow them into the hospital during your white space time. My decision to choose the Asheville Campus extends beyond Application Phase as it is also where I will be doing my residency training. MAHEC is a pioneer in providing healthcare to underserved populations in western North Carolina as well as offering support to primary care practices in their region. They have statewide and national leaders in addiction medicine and Point of Care Ultrasound. Finally, the core campus faculty here truly go above and beyond to stay in contact, make sure you are completing assignments, and guide you through your career decisions.

Ultimately, the decision to come to Asheville has been rewarding in both an academic and personal way. The city has everything to offer when it comes to enjoying yourself outside of school. It has everything you’d want from a city in terms of food, breweries, music venues, etc., all while being surrounded by a wide range of outdoor activities. I couldn’t be more fortunate than to spend Application Phase in such a great city surrounded by such great people!