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By high school, Wesley Roten knew he wanted to be a rural physician. Now in medical school, participating in UNC's rural scholars program is helping him realize his goal.

UNC Programs: Cultivating a Rural Scholar

Wesley Roten grew up in a small town in the northwestern corner of North Carolina. With only 1,500 residents, the Christmas trees on West Jefferson’s many farms far outnumber the residents. Wesley’s first introduction to a career in medicine was an after-school job cleaning the small family practice where his mother worked as a medical assistant. He later shadowed one of the practice’s physicians as an unpaid intern. This early mentor inspired Wesley to apply to medical school at UNC in Chapel Hill.

Once there, Wesley became aware of the Kenan Primary Care Medical Scholars program that encourages students to seek rural health careers in North Carolina by providing financial support, enhanced rural health training, and guaranteed acceptance to the more rural-focused Asheville campus for the clinical year. Wesley knew he wanted to practice rural family medicine and jumped at the opportunity to become one of the 43 scholars to attend the Asheville campus since the program’s inception in 2013.

He wasn’t the only one. In 2018-19, 40% of Wesley's classmates were Kenan Scholars.

Now in his fourth year, Wesley doesn’t regret his choice.

“The Asheville campus is special. The longitudinal curriculum and flexible white space gave me the opportunity to develop my own patient panel and shape my learning experience. The smaller class size, supportive administrators, and committed residents and preceptors gave me all the encouragement I needed to make the most out of my medical education.”

Click here to learn more about the rural scholar experience at the UNC SOM Asheville campus.

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