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Benefits of FIRST:


One less year of medical school means there is one less year of paying for medical school.  Students can save thousands of dollars with an accelerated program.  In addition, once FIRST scholars enter the practice phase of the program after residency in a rural or underserved community, they can be matched up with loan repayment programs.


With a handful of scholars in each class of the program, students can form a community of like-minded individuals.  Scholars also get the opportunity to work closely with the program’s director and coordinator for more individualized attention and assistance.

Specialty Experience

FIRST scholars start spending one half-day each week in clinic once the program starts during March of their first year of medical school.  This weekly time is spent in a clinic of their specialty of choice – family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, or surgery – and continues throughout their time in medical school.  This provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience in their chosen specialty early on in their medical education and get a feel for what a career in that specialty would look like.  Asheville, Chapel Hill, and Wilmington students will do their weekly in clinics during Chapel Hill during Foundation Phase, and then at their respective campuses during Application Phase.  Greensboro students will do their weekly clinics in Greensboro.

Clinical Experience

FIRST scholars do most of their clinical experiences in their selected specialty and at the location of their directed pathway residency program.  This allows the students to form relationships with the doctors before they even become residents, as well as learn how that residency location operates.

Ongoing Support

While support from the FIRST Program’s leadership is more hands-on while a FIRST scholar is still in medical school, that support does not end with graduation through monthly continuing education meetups and practice support.


Who is a good fit for FIRST?  Someone who:

Is Committed to Serving North Carolina

The FIRST Program’s goal is to serve the state of North Carolina and its residents and we want students who are committed to that as well.  Students who call North Carolina home, whether they were born here or they visited and fell in love, are motivated to provide top quality care to the state’s residents.

Cares About Underserved Populations

There is a physician shortage in North Carolina – particularly in rural and underserved communities.  FIRST is addressing this shortage by preparing its scholars to practice in these communities.  Students who are passionate about and dedicated to serving these underserved populations are a great fit for the program.

Knows Their Specialty of Choice

The FIRST Program currently offers four specialties: family medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry.  For students who know exactly what type of medicine they want to practice, the program provides great opportunities to experience what this would look like early on and equips them to best serve the underserved populations in North Carolina.

Strives to Make a Difference

At its foundation, the FIRST Program strives to make a difference: in medical school, in residency, and in practice.  FIRST scholars want to help the people of this state by providing exemplary healthcare to areas that often have limited access and options.

Wants to Reach Their Full Potential Earlier

The program attracts students who want to be personally developed and inspired to reach their full potential in three years instead of four.  With a streamlined and efficient curriculum, students are able to get a world class education, an abundance of experience in their chosen specialty, and hands-on training to ensure they are well prepared to enter residency followed by practice one year early.