UNC residents are afforded the unique opportunity of having a special elective month annually during their PGY2, PGY3, and PGY4 years. During their “special” month, residents may participate in a scholarly activity of their choosing with the intention of advancing their individual career goals. Residents often use this month to pursue clinical, basic science, or quality improvement research. Scholarly work generated during special month is then presented at Resident Research Day in the spring of each academic year. Many residents will also go on to present at statewide and national conferences as well as publish their works in medical journals.
Alternatively, those residents interested in medical education utilize special month to develop their clinician-educator skills. For those residents with a background rooted in the humanities, special month offers them the chance to explore the intersection of humanities and medicine and apply their discoveries to their clinical practice. The Department of Medicine offers a robust global health experience, and many residents take advantage of this during the special month through international rotations. Finally, residents with undifferentiated subspecialty interest may use this time for additional clinical exposure as they determine their career ambitions. Regardless of how residents choose to spend their special month, its underlying purpose and net effect is promoting career advancement.
Residents are encouraged to foster their interests in global health through international rotations. Residents are offered mentorship and financial support for these activities. In recent years, residents have travelled to Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico and Peru. We have a recurring presence in Malawi.
We have a number of established international rotations supported through the Department of Medicine. Residents are also encouraged to apply for the Global Health Scholars Program which provides funding career and leadership development of residents with an interest in global health. Residents completing this program will allow residents to receive a certification in global health.
Reflections from Residents
“I spent one month during my second year in Lilongwe, Malawi at UNC Project- Kamuzu Central Hospital along with my wife Nikkan (a PGY-2 pediatrics resident) and a fourth-year UNC medical student, Alex. UNC has a long-standing affiliation with this hospital and works collaboratively with local practitioners to provide research support and training opportunities.
It was an invaluable experience: rounding with the inpatient team gave me new perspective into how medical care is provided with limited resources, and I also gained a lot of insights into challenges facing patients and providers in this busy, public sub-Saharan hospital. Although we spent the majority of our time at the hospital, we were able to break away for a weekend at Lake Malawi as well!”
-Nick Maston, MD
“During my special month, I worked in the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi through UNC Project-Malawi. It was the rainy season, so many of the patients we saw in the inpatient setting had gastroenteritis and dehydration and/or cerebral malaria and severe anemia. I was most struck by how much could be done with minimal resources. The experience provided a different perspective on the necessity or utility of certain interventions we do routinely here, such as continuous cardiorespiratory monitoring and daily labs.”
-Emily Ciccone, MP3
“During my special month, I worked at the Internal Medicine ward at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. This experience exposed me to many new disease pathologies and also how to care for chronic medical conditions in a resource-limited setting.”
-Alyssa Tilly, MP3
Resident Teaching Elective
Residents play a key role in educating patients, medical students, interns, and peers throughout their time at UNC. Previously, there had been no dedicated time for residents to develop these skills. Proactive residents within the Internal Medicine program took the initiative to create a two-week elective in medical education offered to PGY-2’s and PGY-3’s for improvement of teaching and mentoring skills. The elective includes literature review as well as teaching/mentoring experiences: precepting students in attending clinic, one-on-one mentorship with struggling medical students, small group chalk talks, and large group lectures. Both medical students and experienced teaching attendings will provide standardized feedback to residents. Additionally, residents will complete reflective activities to identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth. By the end of this course, residents start to build their own portfolio of mini-teaching talks and gain confidence in their teaching and mentorship strategies. Additionally, this formalized course will help strengthen applications for future careers in medical education as they would complete the course with a certificate in medical education.