Summer Programs for Immersion in Family Medicine

Summer Programs for Immersion in Family Medicine (returning in 2022)

The NCAFP offers a variety of programs and opportunities to medical students.  A few of these are clinical experience opportunities available to 1st-year medical students at all five North Carolina schools, plus 3rd-year students at Duke. These take place the summer between your first and second year of medical school. You do not have to be convinced that the specialty of Family Medicine is your career path; you must merely have an interest in learning more about this exciting specialty.

A primary goal of both programs is to provide students with experiences away from the academic setting.  Therefore, these programs offer a travel stipend to help off-set commuting and other related costs you may incur due to your placement site.  NC AHEC housing does partner with us to help whenever possible, however, due to 3rd-year clerkship students, housing in specific areas may not be available.

There are typically two programs available offering insight and clinical experience in Family Medicine. Application deadlines are typically in January. Due to COVID-19, plans are currently on hold. 

Rural / Underserved Health Experience:  A two-week immersion experience

There are typically two 2-week programs, one in Eastern, North Carolina and one in Western, North Carolina. Each program will accommodate up to ten students.

Although the programs will differ in some ways due to geography and the nature of the underserved areas in which they are located, they will be similar in other ways. The first week will take place with 8-10 other NC medical students at a family medicine residency program. Students will engage in activities such as patient home visits, rural health, and family medicine discussions, wilderness medicine sessions, hands on skills workshops, visits to a rural hospital, health department, FQHC, or other safety-net clinics, and more. In the 2nd week, you will be matched with a practicing family physician to spend a week in the life of a family doctor working in rural or other underserved areas.

What do students say?

  • I have loved the physicians I spent time with the past two weeks. Thanks to our physician hosts and the networking opportunities we’ve had, I learned a LOT about what life is like both in the clinic and out for a rural physician.
  • My mind is full of colorful stories I’ve heard, faces I’ve seen, and the enthusiasm to explore this area of medicine further. It makes me excited for the years ahead. 
  • This experience helped me understand both the positives and negatives of working in a rural/remote area.  I appreciate that we were given an honest view of what it can be like.

Family Medicine Externship Program

This four-week experience is designed to offer students a chance to work with a practicing community family physician to see first-hand the daily life and activity of a full time, community-based family doctor.  Depending on the physician paired with, in addition to outpatient care, experiences may include: hospital rounds, nursing home or group home care visits, hospice care, free clinic work or house calls.  Activities will vary according to the physician and community.  Every effort is made to pair students in the geographic area of choice, however not all specific locations can be accommodated so flexibility is requested. What do students say?

  • This experience provided very practical, hands-on learning that helped me “connect-the-dots” between classroom learning and on-the-ground experience.
  • Great opportunity to practice interviewing & physical exam skills…it helped me become more comfortable with this skill.
  • I loved the change from treating a six-month-old baby for a well-check, to a 52 yo man with high cholesterol
  • The ongoing patient relationships helped me understand how to better counsel patients and ultimately manage their health issues.


How it Works:

Interested medical students enrolled in any North Carolina medical school may submit an application.  All applications are reviewed by a committee composed of family medicine physician leaders. The number of experiences offered will vary according to available funding. Participation offers are typically extended in March with all program participants officially confirmed by early April.

Once selected, the process of obtaining/matching family medicine preceptors will begin.  Students may choose to locate a family physician preceptor by utilizing their existing contacts. However, this is not required, and all efforts will be made to locate a preceptor on the student's behalf with preferred experiences, interests, and geography in mind.  A focus of this program is to expose students to physicians outside of the university community so preference is given to family physicians whose clinical time is community-based.

During the 4-week externship and the 1-week time with a family physician in the rural health program, daily activities are directed by the physician preceptor.

Still have questions?

If you have questions regarding the Foundation's Summer Programs, please contact Brent Hazelett at the NCAFP offices at or via telephone at 919-833-2110.