April Member Spotlight: Shawn Hamm, DO

April Member Spotlight: Shawn Hamm, DO

April 25, 2024

April Member Spotlight: Shawn Hamm, DO

By Kevin LaTorre 
Communications and Membership Manager

For April 2024, we’re thrilled to feature Shawn Hamm, DO, for the NCAFP Member Spotlight!

Dr. Hamm works as a family physician in Valdese, NC. In addition to caring for patients there, Dr. Hamm serves as the Medical Director of the Burke County Health Department and participates in the statewide Primary Care Improvement Collaborative at UNC Health.

We spotlight NCAFP members who make unique impacts on their patients and communities. If you’re providing a unique service, contact us so we can consider spotlighting you as well!

Dr. Hamm chose Family Medicine for its “big ideas” and all-around patient care.

He says it was an easy choice: “I knew it in college as a pre-med student,” Dr. Hamm says. His desire to become a family physician had started when he went on seven medical mission trips to Jamaica between 2006 and 2010: “When you have kids, adults, and grandparents waiting at a clinic, you can’t take care of them all with just any specialty. But when you’re a family doctor, you can. Seeing that variety of age groups and needs, I thought, ‘I have to do Family Medicine, there’s no doubt about it.’”

Dr. Hamm’s family had moved to Shelby, NC, in 2008, and so he spent time in the state while visiting them. “I knew that I wanted to come here to be near them after residency,” he says. “I interviewed with UNC Health Blue Ridge in Morganton and just fell in love with the program. They had big ideas for how to improve population health in Burke County, and I really connected with that.” He has been working to serve his patients and the larger community in the Valdese-Morganton area ever since.

His work today combines patient care, public health, and health improvements for the entire state.

Dr. Hamm works in his Valdese clinic for four days each week, and he also works on public health issues with Burke County as the medical director and tuberculosis consultant. And as though these positions didn’t require enough of him, he also works with the statewide Primary Care Improvement Collaborative at UNC Health and teaches as an adjunct professor at the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, while hosting medical students as a preceptor for weeks at a time. “My week is pretty crazy,” he says.

But he thinks that this mixture of patient visits, calls, teaching, and brainstorming is the best thing he can have as a family physician. “I wanted to practice Family Medicine to have time in clinic with patients but also to do the bigger ideas of Family Medicine,” Dr. Hamm says, “like population health and public health. I enjoy that I have that balance of doing direct patient care but also being able to change higher-level primary care through health policy. I feel like I hit the jackpot being here at UNC Health Blue Ridge, because they allow me to do all these things at once.”

Working for patients and for primary care is “both amazing and a challenge,” Dr. Hamm says. His community is semi-rural but has many specialists available for his patients. “Access to that care is not an issue,” he says. However, his patients do not have good access to mental and behavioral health resources. “That’s probably the single biggest challenge I have,” he says, “and probably 60-70% of my patients have some type of mental health need.”

His work certainly lends a hand in connecting them with the help they need. “We don’t talk enough about how Family Medicine plays an absolutely critical role in mental health and access to care for mental health in rural settings,” Dr. Hamm says. “We’re partnering with UNC Health Blue Ridge and the Health Department to tackle this in a really innovative way. So I’m excited to see how that develops over the next six to 12 months.”

In addition, Dr. Hamm stresses that future family physicians can also enjoy this mixture of work and objectives. “I hope that medical students and residents would come out and see what medicine is really like in a rural or semi-rural community health system,” he says. “Some of the negative things you hear about Family Medicine are just not true. Life is amazing as a family doctor. You can have excellent work-life balance and good support from your health system. Those are things you should look for.”

We’d like to thank Dr. Hamm for his service to his patients in Burke County.

If you’re providing unique service to your practice and community, please contact us at and let us know!