Thank you for your interest in the MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program! The program is built to support the next generation of rural physicians. Recognizing ongoing needs, we are committed to developing family physicians with a heart to serve the entire family and lead healthcare transformation.
In a small town, you can make a big impact.
Our program has unique features and is specifically designed to train full-scope family doctors to serve in rural and underserved settings like the one here in the beautiful mountains of Boone, NC. From your first day, you are treated as an integral member of the team. Your training will allow you to experience a large breadth of knowledge, procedural skills, and ultimately life as a family doctor while you take care of patients in the delivery room, intensive care unit, nursing homes, and home visits. Clinical opportunities are longitudinal to emphasize the continuity of care across settings as well as the relationships with the people we help find health and wellness. As a program in a small mountain town, leadership and influence take many forms including community outreach, school-based health, hospital committees, and serving the most vulnerable patients. Your teachers are experienced family doctors and other health professionals who share the desire to make a difference.
Innovation that matters.
For more than 40 years, our curriculum has provided outstanding medical training as the largest Area Health Education Center in North Carolina and the nation. Residents have always been key contributors to our program’s environment of innovation. Our comprehensive training places a strong emphasis on rural medicine, community-based care, women's health, behavioral medicine, geriatrics, and the care of special populations including patients with substance use disorders.
Learning skills for a lifetime of community service.
As a true community-based program, we are committed to responding to the needs of our community and the region in which we live. Our more intimate learning environment emphasizes experiential learning, innovative modules, and comprehensive procedural opportunities. Residents and faculty alike share a commitment to teach and learn together, all with the aim of providing improved care. Our supportive group of faculty share the experience of providing great care to patients and one another while living in a beautiful mountain community. This is a program that allows for a wide range of enriching clinical experiences in a personalized setting. By maximizing flexibility in styles for adult learners, residents develop into their best potential while attaining well-rounded skills applicable to any practice setting.
The importance of personal and professional wellness.
The strains on the day-to-day life of today’s physician extend well beyond the exam room. The ability to establish healthy habits and support during your training is pivotal to our future success. We encourage a work environment, schedule, and personal support network that nurtures you as a valued colleague during this phase of your development. Furthermore, we provide enough flexibility to optimize your experiences, which will add both personal and professional value to your individual focus and goals. We believe strongly that the best family doctors are those who have whole lives, and learn how to balance professional commitment and personal growth early in their careers.
Come and visit our program and our community in the breathtaking high country mountains of Western North Carolina. You’ll discover a group of dedicated and compassionate people that share a desire to help others and grow together. I wish you the best of luck in the next step of your journey in medicine.
Excellence: We deliver quality activities and services that our customers and partners value.
Diversity: We promote equity and inclusivity.
Integrity: We act with fairness, transparency, and the highest level of ethics.
Collaboration: We value partnerships and support interprofessional approaches.
Improvement: We continuously innovate and improve our work.
Civility: We treat all people with respect and kindness, all the time.
Inclusivity: We value the contribution of people different than ourselves and the merits of an
organization that reflects differences in our teams and our community.
Empowerment: We value engagement, commitment, and ownership of MAHEC’s mission, work, and
MAHEC is committed to creating an equitable and inclusive place to work, learn, and receive care. We actively recruit physicians, staff, and students from underrepresented minorities, and we strive to implement policies and procedures that value and support diverse backgrounds and experiences. MAHEC does not discriminate on the basis of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, spiritual practice, geography, disability, or age.
Molly Benedum, MD, is a board-certified family physician and directs the MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency Program in Boone. She provides comprehensive primary care from cradle to grave including newborn and pediatric care and inpatient hospital care. Her clinical interests include women's health, adolescent medicine, integrative medicine, and care for vulnerable and underserved people including the LGBTQ population. Her research and teaching interests include evidence-based medicine and wellness and burnout in the clinical learning environment.
Molly is passionate about teaching the next generation of excellent primary care physicians to serve the Carolinas and has won several teaching awards during her career including an Outstanding Service Award from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology magna cum laude from Furman University and went on to earn her medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Benedum completed her family medicine residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She is a graduate of the UNC Faculty Development Fellowship and the National Institute for Program Director Development Fellowship.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she moved to Winston-Salem in grade school. In her spare time, Molly and her husband Joe enjoy playing with their rescue pup Agnes, cooking, and traveling.
David Brendle, DO, earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from the UNC Charlotte where he also ran cross country and track. It was in college that he became more interested in health and wellness. This led David to Appalachian State University where he earned a masters in exercise science. Eventually, he made his way to Baltimore, where he worked for the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the University of Maryland. Much of the research he was involved in pertained to managing comorbidities with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. David's work there solidified his interest in pursuing a career in medicine. He decided to attend the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine because he identified with the tenets of osteopathic medicine that include treating the person, not the disease, and the understanding the body is a unit of mind, body, and spirit.
After medical school, Dr. Brendle returned to Charlotte to be closer to friends and family and to attend Carolinas Medical Center for his family medicine residency, which is where he met his wife Torre Hinnant, MD. After completing their residency, David and Torre moved to Lenoir and practiced both inpatient and outpatient medicine before moving to Boone in 2016.
Dr. Brendle's medical interests include sports medicine, osteopathic manipulation, and in-office procedures as well as managing chronic conditions. He loves working with premed and medical students and looks forward to working with MAHEC family medicine residents. Outside of the office, David enjoys outdoor activities including road biking, mountain biking, cyclocross, climbing, running, hiking, and skiing. He's also trying to improve his yoga practice—stay tuned!
Charles Baker, MD, has been a full-scope family physician for more than 40 years, delivering more than 2,000 babies in the High Country of Avery County.
He earned his undergraduate degree at Davidson College and then attended medical school at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Baker interrupted his residency training for three years, spending two on the Sioux Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and another year in an inner-city clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Those three years earned him the distinction of being the last of the “grandfathers” - fully certified family physicians who had not finished their residency. Dr. Baker completed his residency in pediatrics at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital in 1979 and then opened a solo practice in the High Hountry where he was double-boarded in pediatrics and family practice. He and his wife Ann raised their three children here and helped them launch careers all over the world in veterinary medicine, international development, and counseling.
Dr. Baker loves mentoring medical students, and teaching has been a meaningful part of his career. His Linville practice has been a full-time teaching site for UNC medical students for more than 30 years and is one of only five sites in North Carolina designated as a gold teaching practice. He has trained students during all four years of their medical school experience and has precepted MAHEC residents for many years. Dr. Baker is thrilled to support the new MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency in Boone as he moves into retirement from private practice. He looks forward to teaching residents the importance of delivering “hands on” care and remembering to stop and smell the roses.
Dr. Chris Bullers grew up in Hickory, North Carolina. He attended Catawba College as an undergraduate, and after working for several years in the pharmaceutical industry, completed medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. After finishing his family medicine residency at Wake Forest University, he capped his medical training with a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
He then returned to Wake Forest University to become part of the family medicine clinical faculty and Winston Salem State team physician. During this time, he was also the principal investigator of the Winston Salem State arm of the NCAA-Department of Defense Concussion, Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium nationwide project to further define the clinical and neurobiological natural history of concussive injury and recovery. He has been included in several publications stemming from this ongoing research.
In 2017, Dr. Bullers climbed the mountain to join the AppOrtho team of the Appalachian Regional Medical System (ARHS) in Boone, NC. At that time, he was part of the vision to build a new academic center to educate future primary care and sports medicine physicians. After helping to start the family medicine residency at ARHS, he continues regular didactics with the residents as well as directing their orthopedic clinical experience. He currently serves as medical director and team physician for Appalachian State University athletics and helps to provide for the sports medicine needs of Watauga and Avery counties. This includes varied youth activities ranging from all sanctioned school sports to skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, dance and the many other unique opportunities that the mountains provide. Several mass events are overseen yearly including 2 large (80+ team) weekend soccer tournaments hosted by High Country Soccer, and Heart of a Pioneer, a mass preparticipation physical event including EKG and concussion screening for the county middle and high school athletes.
Professionally, Dr. Bullers’ interests include nonsurgical musculoskeletal care, injury prevention, concussion management, nonsurgical procedures including biologics and tenotomy, diagnostic and interventional ultrasound, and overuse injuries.
Dr. Bullers enjoys all outdoor activities especially when they involve his wife and two boys. They are constantly exploring all the high country has to offer and finding new fun every weekend they can. He tries to “practice what he preaches” when it comes to exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Daniel Goble, MD, grew up in the Western North Carolina mountains and attended medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at Eastern Carolina University. After moving to Wichita, Kansas for a residency at Via Christi Family Medicine, Daniel found himself longing to return to the mountains. Growing up in WNC, Dr. Goble knew first-hand all that Boone had to offer. After researching Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and finding it made up of dynamic, healthy, and effective teams, his decision to join ARHS was a no-brainer.
Dr. Goble is an ARHS hospitalist, associate professor for the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, obstetrics instructor for Equip Ministries’ Missionary Medicine Intensive course, and medical director of Boone’s Community Care Clinic, which is the only free clinic serving uninsured patients in the High Country. Daniel is looking forward to teaching inpatient medicine as faculty for the Boone family medicine residency program.
Daniel's hobbies include writing, triathlons, kayaking, and playing the bongos—a list that is always evolving. He and his wife, an ob/gyn nurse, also enjoy gardening, backpacking, traveling, and taking care of their animals. They are currently exploring fostering with the local Department of Social Services. Dr. Goble enjoys discussing philosophy with anyone who will listen and is known to enjoy a good sour ale (preferably at the same time).
While attending undergraduate and medical school at Duke University, Lisa Kaufmann loved vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Family obligations led her to pursue her internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing her residency, she moved to Tucson, Arizona where she started in private practice but moved to the University of Arizona because she loved teaching. While there, Dr. Kaufmann was medical director for the resident/faculty practice site and director of the ambulatory internal medicine curriculum. Lisa subsequently moved to the State University of New York in Syracuse "Upstate," where she was medical director for the resident/faculty practice site for over 10 years before moving into full-time hospital medicine.
In addition to teaching clinical internal medicine in both inpatient and outpatient settings for first-year medical students through fellows, Dr. Kaufmann has taught evidence-based medicine including critical review of medical literature, medical decision making, quality improvement, population health, cross-cultural medicine, and physical diagnosis. She ran the travel health program at Upstate for several years and developed a program for refugee health for the large number of refugees who come to the Syracuse area via the Refugee Resettlement Program. Lisa attended the Clinical Teaching Program at Stanford University School of Medicine under Dr. Kelly Skeff, where she was trained to teach faculty to be effective teachers. She also taught Stanford's program on how to teach medical decision making.
At Upstate, Lisa developed a semester course in mindfulness-based stress reduction for medical students. She also collaborated on a mindfulness-based stress reduction program for the general public and created a mindfulness-based eating disorders program.
Dr. Kaufmann moved to Boone several years ago as a hospitalist and is now the director of the adult hospital medicine group and medical director of the adult inpatient service line. Her hospitalist group is a practice site for the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, and its first graduating class awarded her group the Community Partnership Award for teaching and educational experience. Dr. Kaufmann and her colleagues focus not just on treating patients in the hospital but also on improving transitions of care through active collaboration with care management teams, social workers, outpatient nurse navigators, and community organizations such as food banks, churches, neighborhood health centers, social services, and hospices.
Kyle Wilson, MD, is originally from Bakersville, a small town near Roan Mountain, just an hour south of Boone, North Carolina. He attended Wake Forest University as an undergraduate and then The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University where he also obtained a Master of Public Health degree. Kyle completed his residency at Emory University School of Medicine. After residency, he joined the core faculty of Emory's Department of Family and Preventive Medicine where he served as an attending to residents, medical students, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Wilson also served as assistant director of undergraduate medical education, a resident advisor, and faculty advisor for the Emory Family Medicine Interest Group. He developed new residency rotations in HIV treatment in primary care, oncology, and inpatient cardiology and taught didactics for medical students and residents.
Dr. Wilson’s medical interests include inpatient and outpatient medicine, women’s health, general pediatrics, and procedural medicine.
Kyle and his family are excited to call Western North Carolina their home again. His wife, Anna Dean, works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in global tobacco surveillance and also serves as adjunct faculty at Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill. They love spending time together as a family with their children. They also enjoy following St. Louis Cardinals baseball and college sports.
Beverly is a board certified OBGYN that was fortunate to join MAHEC Boone as adjunct faculty in 2021, with the primary objective to establish low risk prenatal care and gynecologic services within MAHEC Boone. She moved to Boone in 2009 as the founding physician of Harmony Center for Women. With the inauguration of the MAHEC Boone FM residency, she found a deep connection and shared goals with the faculty of the Family Practice residency. She moved her gynecologic practice into AppFamily Medicine.
Beverly believes the bedrock of a healthy rural medical community is collaboration between physicians and advanced practice clinicians with an emphasis on shared decision making with patients. Her clinical interests include geriatric and adolescent gynecology, POCUS, contraception, full spectrum reproductive health education and menopausal medicine. Surgically she loves minimally invasive procedures via vaginal approach and laparoscopy. She is exploring group medical care and more collaboration with regional health departments as professional goals.
Beverly was raised in Georgia, the product of public education. She earned her BS in Microbiology from University of Georgia, followed by her MD from Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University) with a rural health scholarship. She joined a private practice in Southwest Georgia where she learned the blessings of working with physician mentors and certified nurse midwives. The turbulence of working in rural healthcare became a tsunami in 2007 when a tornado instantly destroyed the community hospital in Americus. The disaster lead to a fortunate opportunity to move to the Appalachians, where she and her family had spent vacation for years. Boone has provided a wonderful life for her family to thrive, mostly outside: hiking, gardening and frolicking with dogs for herself; mountain biking, skiing and skateboarding for her husband and two teenage sons.
Hello! My name is John Cuningham. I have lived in North Carolina my whole life and love this beautiful state. I was born and raised in Fayetteville, NC, a military town in the eastern part of the state.
I completed my undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in biology. As an undergraduate, I fell in love with the scientific building blocks of human physiology and through several volunteer opportunities, I realized how rewarding caring for patients in a clinical setting is, pushing me towards a career in medicine.
After graduation, I was not ready to stop being a Tar Heel, and I decided to complete my medical education at UNC as well. Throughout medical school, I relished the opportunity to begin a life-long path of learning and loved my formative patient care experiences. I am grateful for the opportunity to care for patients in my home state.
For some time, I have felt drawn to the mountains of Western North Carolina. My wife, Rose and I have been working to immerse ourselves in the community. She is the shelter coordinator for OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service and Shelter Inc.), a local domestic violence and sexual assault shelter that serves Boone and the surrounding counties. Our newest addition to the family is a Pomsky named Einstein. We enjoy taking advantage of the beautiful mountain air as a family.
I’m the product of 7 generations of Watauga county and have always known that I would return to Watauga county, even before I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I was fortunate enough to complete my degree in chemical engineering at N.C. State prior to medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Within medicine, I’m passionate about providing health care to rural underserved populations, particularly within the Appalachian mountains. Additional subcategories that I care deeply about include mental health, reducing stigma, substance use disorders, prenatal care, and migrant worker populations.
Outside of medicine, I’m a lover of all things dealing with music and/or outdoor adventure. I play guitar, piano, sing, and occasionally try my hand at writing and recording. I’ve been skiing since I was two and I’ve been a volunteer ski patroller at Appalachian Ski mountain since age 15. In the warmer months, you can find me running on the Boone Greenway or mountain biking at Rocky Knob Park.
Hello! My name is Erinn Murphy, and I am thrilled to be part of the inaugural class of residents at MAHEC in Boone.
I am originally from Reidsville, NC. After graduating high school, I attended Columbia International University, majoring in the Bible, psychology, and youth ministry. Since that time I have been a youth pastor, behavioral therapist, emergency room scribe, labor doula, closed captioner for the hard of hearing, and stay-at-home mom in turns. While working as a behavioral therapist, I found myself drawn to medicine as the culmination of all that life experience had taught me, so I resumed my education at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and then Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Family medicine is the true fulfillment of that dream.
I enjoy full-spectrum family medicine with specific interests in LGBT medicine, osteopathic manipulative treatment, women’s health, obstetrics, and integrative medicine. I am excited to pursue these interests at MAHEC under the guidance of the very welcoming team that has been assembled.
When I’m not working, my main focus is spending time with my partner David, my daughter Eleanora, and my extended family. We have a temperamental cat named Alfred who wants everyone to pet her but not too much. I also enjoy refinishing furniture, watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and attending DragonCon when opportunity permits. I’m trying to learn to like cooking but would much rather explore a new restaurant.
During my interviews, MAHEC stood out as a place where I could acquire the broad spectrum training I desired within a supportive team. I wanted to train under physicians whom I wanted to become, and I believe I have found exactly that.
I grew up in the small town of Davidson, NC, and received my undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University where my focus was cell and molecular biology. After graduation, I pursued lab research at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine where I engineered biofunctionalized scaffolding to replace volumetric skeletal muscle loss, created 3D organs for placement in humans, and assisted in creating a machine that was able to triple the area of a single skin graft for burn victims with limited donor sites.
As much as I loved bench work, I knew that something was missing and felt called to practice medicine. I attended Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to become a physician who treated the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. My medical interests are broad but include wilderness medicine, addressing healthcare disparities in underserved populations, women’s health, and lifestyle medicine.
When I saw that MAHEC was expanding to Boone, I knew it would be a perfect fit and would allow me to serve the people of rural Appalachia and return to my alma mater. I was thrilled to have found a program that places an emphasis on community outreach and personal wellness and also offered many leadership opportunities and a fresh approach to practicing full-spectrum family medicine. As a bonus, Boone has mountain views that can’t be beaten, any outdoor activity you could want, delicious food, culture, and a top 20-ranked college football team!
I am ecstatic to be part of this program and look forward to becoming an active member in the local community. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, gardening with a focus on growing unique varieties of flowers, knitting, and playing with my sheltie Riley.
Hello! My name is Connor Brunson. I have spent my life in a slow loop starting in Bluff City, Tennessee, stretching down to Columbia, South Carolina, back up through Greenville, and now, thankfully, landing in Boone.
I started my career studying Public Health and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Upon graduation, I worked as a bagel baker, a nude art model, a middle school teacher, an EMT, and as an advocate for the creative sphere and an organizer of inclusive community spaces. Living and learning in South Carolina helped me reach a more complete understanding of racial and economic inequality, particularly in medicine, and I eventually realized that small communities, like my hometown, have a large part to play in righting the wrongs of our society.
My creative work (songwriting, short fiction, poetry) as well as my philosophic wanderings (Taoism, Stoicism, Narrative Medicine) led me to understand the tangible power of emotional healing and mindfulness. I believe that modern rural America is in great need of gentle, compassionate, full-person care, and I think that family physicians are in a unique position to provide that care. I am proud to be part of the process.
I grew up in a small town in southwest Virginia called Boones Mill where I spent a good portion of my childhood frolicking in the woods. My favorite word as a child was “uvula” and I developed a love for learning about human anatomy and physiology through lifelong competitive dance. I studied biochemistry and Spanish language at Virginia Tech for undergrad, then attended VCOM-Virginia Campus for medical school with the goal of pursuing rural family medicine. My professional interests include women’s health, OMT, lifestyle medicine, wilderness medicine, and care for vulnerable populations. Personal interests include any and all outdoor activities, experimenting in the kitchen (and eating delicious experiments), yoga, and learning new things. After residency, I plan to remain in Appalachia to provide holistic healthcare in the outpatient setting for my community and have a small farm with many vegetables, bees, goats, and chickens.
Hi! My name is Caitlin Porter, I grew up in Marion, NC and am so excited to be back in these beautiful mountains to practice medicine!
I went to undergrad at Gardner-Webb University and attended medical school at Campbell University. I always knew that one day I would return to WNC after training, but doors were opened and that dream got started early with the beginning of this program here in Boone. I started medical school to become a family physician, I always loved the idea of knowing my patients well and taking care of entire families. During medical school I got involved with the NCAFP and the many opportunities they have to offer. I spent 2 weeks as a first year medical student shadowing family doctors in WNC and learning what life was like in rural family medicine. I served on the board of trustees as a student and continue to serve now as a resident. Some of my professional interests include OMT, empowering patients to take control of their health through education, and women’s health. I am very thankful for the opportunity to mesh some of my favorite things while in residency; family, medicine, and the mountains of Western NC.
Outside of medicine I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. You can find us grabbing coffee or a meal, shopping at TJ Maxx, or finding a hike with great views. My husband is a golf professional and mortgage lender in the area. We spend most of our time together out on the course, staying involved with our church, or relaxing on our porch with our dog Bogey.
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Stevens and I grew up in Apex, North Carolina, but fell in love with Boone while attending Appalachian State. I came for the mountains and was captivated by the vibrant community, stunning landscape, and wonderful people I met both on and off campus. During my time at ASU, I studied cellular biology with a minor in chemistry and medical humanities. I participated in plant ecophysiology research, studying the effects of environmental changes on Fraser fir tree physiology. I had a passion for medical science, but also had the opportunity to volunteer at local organizations, where I developed an interest in different ways to support health and wellness within the community.
After graduating, I attended UNC Chapel Hill for medical school and completed my third year at MAHEC Asheville. I particularly enjoyed volunteering as a hospital doula at UNC and working at free produce markets in western NC. These experiences, as well as my passion for lifestyle/preventative medicine, food access initiatives, and community advocacy led me to family medicine. I knew I wanted to move back to the mountains, but never dreamed that I would have the privilege of training at my favorite place in the world! My husband, Will, and I are thrilled to be able to live and work in this place we love. My other interests include vegetable gardening, tiny home living, trail running, hiking, backpacking, brewery visiting, skiing moderately well, sitting on porches, and anything involving my dog, Sam.
Hello! My name is Jason Karimy and I am so excited to be an intern at the Boone Rural Family Medicine program. I am originally from Littleton, Colorado where I grew up playing music, snowboarding, backpacking, reading, and writing. Eventually, I moved to the East coast where I found a new love in SCUBA diving. There is an indescribable feeling when you take your first breath underwater. Highly recommend. But, while, I love SCUBA and the ocean, my heart belongs to the mountains. Which is why when I came to Appalachia for the first time, I knew this was my home. The hiking and camping here is breathtaking and so accessible as it is in our backyard. Apart from my love for the outdoors, I have a passion for rural communities, poverty, food insecurity and how it relates to chronic illness. Our program’s leadership have a vested interest in these communities and have fostered an environment where residents can actually come in and make an impact. I hope to stay in Western North Carolina as a rural family medicine physician and care for the communities that have become such an important part of my life.
Hey there! I hail from Chapel Hill, NC. I attended Duke for my undergraduate education and became interested in a holistic, public health-focused approach to medicine. I graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and spent a year working for Americorps before matriculating into UNC School of Medicine and graduating with an additional Master of Public Health degree from UNC. In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing and cycling, as well as playing music with my friends.
During medical school (apart from my training), I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at our student-run free clinic at UNC, perform in a longitudinal cervical cancer screening in El Corpus, Honduras, and serve patients at our rural health clinic in Nash County, NC.
I’m thrilled to get to move out west and become a part of the Boone MAHEC family! I am drawn to work at the MAHEC Boone program as an opportunity to learn to treat a wide variety of medical pathology, develop longitudinal relationships with my patients, and provide care in the most beautiful town in the state.
Hi! My name is Anna Sparks, and I am so excited to be part of the MAHEC Boone Family Medicine residency!
I was born and raised in Elkin, North Carolina. I attended Surry Community College for two years before transferring to Appalachian State University where I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Biology. After graduation, I headed to South Carolina to attend medical school at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas campus (VCOM). While at VCOM, my passion for rural, full-spectrum medicine grew through various clinical rotations and experiences while working with underserved and underprivileged populations. I knew MAHEC Boone would be a great fit for me, and I am so excited to return to the high country. My clinical interests are vast, and I look forward to becoming a jack-of-all-trades underneath the guidance and teachings of faculty, staff, and fellow residents.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy walking on nature trails, traveling, collecting seashells, and spending time with family and friends. I am so excited to be in Boone and to serve the populations of Watauga and surrounding counties!
Hello! My name is Tiffany Warren, and I grew up in Oak Ridge, NC. I attended college at Wake Forest University, where I majored in Health and Exercise Science. After a gap year working as a scribe for a Family Medicine physician and as a pharmacy technician, I attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for medical school. Throughout my experiences in undergrad and medical school, I have become very passionate about women’s health, obstetrics, and lifestyle medicine including healthy nutrition and exercise habits. Being a family medicine physician provides the unique opportunity to take care of patients through all phases of life and develop long-term relationships with them, and I find this to be one of the most exciting aspects of medicine.
Outside of medicine, I really enjoy cooking, baking, exercising, and crocheting. My husband and I love to be outside, and you can find us hiking, running, kayaking, fly fishing (maybe?... I’m still learning!), and attempting to garden. Our Christian faith is very important to us, and we love attending and serving in our local church. We love North Carolina (especially the mountains) and are looking forward to starting our next chapter in Boone! I am excited to be a part of the MAHEC Boone family!
Hello! My name is Isaac Werner, and I am originally from Florida, the sunshine state! I attended University of Miami for my undergraduate degree, with an interest in public health and international studies. Towards the end of my senior year, I discovered medicine as my true calling, and I decided to get my EMT certification and enter into a post baccalaureate program. Working as an EMT was an extremely rewarding experience that confirmed I had chosen right career path.
I then moved to Nashville, TN where I completed medical school at Meharry Medical College. Meharry has a special relationship with an underserved community in North Nashville, providing quality care to those who need it most. I enjoyed volunteering at our free clinic on campus, as well as Heart and Soul Hospice. Working in end of life care taught me the impact of visiting with patients, and helping them feel heard.
During this time, I developed an interest in fitness, hiking, and rock climbing. I became fascinated with the challenge of climbing difficult routes while also getting over my fear of heights (I’m still scared). In my free time, I enjoy learning about exercise physiology and recovery. I am passionate about treating athletes, and getting them back to doing what they love.
When I discovered MAHEC family medicine, it was an absolute perfect fit. Working in one of the most beautiful towns in the southeast while also providing care to rural communities was more than I could ask for. Additionally, the access to a robust sports medicine program with division 1 athletes made choosing MAHEC an easy decision. I enjoy spending time with my fellow residents, I appreciate the focus on wellness, and I value the breadth of experience during my training.
AppFamily Medicine, located in Boone, NC, is where our residents provide pediatric care for infants through adolescence and adult primary care. Our family medicine practice offers a same-day walk-in clinic for acute care medical issues, telehealth, and home and hospital visits. The facilities include a conference room, resident work room, and offices for our core faculty and our residency administrator to ensure residents have easy access to preceptors and resources.
Watauga Medical Center
Watauga Medical Center in Boone, NC, is licensed as a 117-bed regional referral medical complex, offering both primary and secondary acute and specialty care. Watauga Medical Center also includes many outpatient clinics and a diagnostics center. The Joint Commission has certified Watauga Medical Center as a Primary Stroke Center and conferred Gold Seal of Approval® for Chest Pain Certification in 2018. Its cancer center is recognized as an approved Community Cancer Care Center by the American College of Surgeon’s Committee on Cancer.
Mission Children’s Hospital
Mission Children’s Hospital, located in Asheville, NC, includes 96 beds dedicated to infants and children and is the only full-service children’s hospital in Western North Carolina. Mission Children’s Hospital is housed on the Mission Hospital Memorial Campus and offers inpatient, outpatient, and outreach services.
Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital
Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital, located in Linville, NC, is a 25-bed acute care hospital with a 10-bed inpatient behavioral health unit. Cannon Memorial also has a full-service emergency department, imaging department, laboratory, outpatient behavioral health, and a rehabilitation center offering physical, occupational, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation services. Renovations are underway to add an 8-bed acute care unit and 27 behavioral health inpatient beds.
MAHEC Boone Family Medicine Residency will be offering hybrid interviews this season; we will have both in-person and virtual options.
Interviews will be conducted October-January. In-person interviews will consist of a social dinner the night before (partners and families welcome) and a full interview day with clinic and hospital tours. One night in a local hotel will be supported by the program. Our in-person interview dates are: 10/13/22, 10/21/22, 10/27/22, 10/28/22, 10/31/22, 11/9/22, 11/10/22, 11/11/22, 11/14/22, 11/30/22 and 12/15/22.
Virtual interviews will be conducted via Zoom, last a half-day (either morning or afternoon), and will include social time with current residents as well as interviews with faculty and residents. Our virtual interview dates are: 10/18/22, 12/7/22, 12/9/22, 12/12/22, 1/09/23, 1/13/23.
We will also be offering two in-person second looks (2/4/23-2/5/23 and 2/25/23-2/26/23). Second looks are optional, and a great way to spend more time with our residents and in our community. Second looks are not evaluative and will not influence our program’s ranking process.
We invite you to apply to our program via the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). We will review your application and contact you if we wish to invite you for an interview. Typically, our interview season runs from mid-October through mid-December. We have 10 interview date options and welcome applicants back for informal second looks.
A complete ERAS application is required, including:
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Three letters of recommendation from faculty who have directly supervised clinical performance (at least one letter should be from a family physician)
Medical school transcript(s)
Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
USMLE, COMLEX, or Canadian licensing exam scores (Step 1 required, Step 2 CK required before ranking, Step 2 CS preferred)
Questions regarding the application process should be directed to the Residency Program Coordinator at FMRP.Boone@mahec.net.
Eligibility and Selection Criteria
The Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs will select from among eligible applicants on the basis of residency program-related criteria such as their preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, and personal qualities such as motivation and integrity.
An applicant must meet or exceed the following minimum qualification(s) to be eligible for selection and appointment to MAHEC’s GME residency programs:
Be a graduate of a medical school in the United States or Canada, accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME); or
Be a graduate of a college of osteopathic medicine in the United States, accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA); or
Be a graduate of a non-LCME- or AOA-approved medical school who also meets one of the following additional qualifications:
holds a currently-valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) prior to appointment; or
holds a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a United States licensing jurisdiction in his or her current ACGME specialty/subspecialty program; or
has graduated from a medical school outside the United States and has completed a Fifth Pathway program provided by a LCME-accredited medical school.
Passed USMLE Steps 1 and 2 or COMLEX 1 and 2 within three attempts, as required by the North Carolina Medical Board.
Be eligible for a NC resident training license.
Be eligible to work in the U.S. (citizen, permanent resident, eligible visa including J1). MAHEC does not sponsor H1B or other visas.
International Medical Graduates
Special laws and regulations apply to international medical graduates who wish to enter the United States to undertake graduate medical education. MAHEC's policies and procedures regarding graduates of international medical schools comply with federal and state laws and regulations and MAHEC's commitment to graduate medical education.
Graduates of medical schools outside the United States and Canada must have a currently valid certificate from ECFMG. Applicants must successfully pass both Step 1 (basic medical) and Step 2 (clinical knowledge and skills) of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
While MAHEC does not sponsor a visa, the international medical graduate applicant must also possess a current/valid visa option or other status governed by the U.S. Immigration Regulations to participate in a GME program.
Finally, the North Carolina Medical Board requires that physicians who are graduates of schools that are not accredited by the LCME or the AOA (foreign medical schools) must be individually certified by ECFMG, have successfully completed at least three years of accredited graduate medical training, and have passed the USMLE or its equivalent to be eligible for application for full licensure. An international medical graduate must complete all other application requirements required by MAHEC and the GME program.
At our primary resident clinic, AppFamily Medicine, we provide access to buprenorphine and other treatments for Substance Use Disorder. We feel this is an integral part of caring for our community and central to our goal of providing full-spectrum primary care to rural areas in Western North Carolina. Our clinics treat patients from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, and we work not only on providing care for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), but also manage Benzodiazepine Dependence, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and methamphetamine use.
Our MAT program is resident-founded and resident-led. From the beginning, our trainees have been integral in developing clinic policy and education related to buprenorphine use, and they regularly manage home and in-office inductions. We treat all-comers in our clinic and provide buprenorphine to anyone who needs care, including prenatal patients. Additionally, our residents are currently working in local Emergency Departments to create a strong referral system for patients with OUD, ensuring that patients who need MAT will have consistent access
As our residency grows, we hope to expand these services and integrate other local resources into our clinic. At present, we are the only clinic in Watauga County that offers integrated MAT with primary care, and we strongly believe there is a profound need for this kind of medicine in rural areas.
Integrated Prenatal Care and Deliveries
We are extremely lucky to provide full-spectrum primary care to all members of our community, and prenatal care is a central part of our mission at MAHEC Boone. Our primary hospital, Watauga Medical Center, is the only hospital offering deliveries in four counties in Western North Carolina, and as a result, we have a broad catchment area and treat patients from a variety of backgrounds. Each of our residents has a panel of prenatal patients who they deliver in the hospital setting in order to maintain continuity and improve patient experience. They also regularly assist on C-sections and manage labor on their month-long L&D rotation each year. Patients have the option to pursue couplet care (care of postpartum mother and infant) with MAHEC Boone, the only clinic in Boone to offer this special service.
The majority of prenatal and OB care in our area is provided by midwives, and our residents work closely with local midwives on their Labor and Delivery months, as well as on GYN rotations. Prenatal care at the Baker Center, our rural site in Newland, NC, is also managed by midwives. Midwives have a strong historic and cultural presence in Western North Carolina, and many of them have been in the community for multiple decades, delivering generations of patients and caring for families from all walks of life. We are extremely proud to partner with them for our outpatient and inpatient OB care.
Outpatient Prenatal and Women’s Health
Our outpatient prenatal care fills a vital need in our patient population. We are the only primary care office in Boone that manages and delivers pregnant patients, and only one of two offices that sees pregnant women at all. Additionally, we provide annual well-woman exams,LARCS ( IUD and Nexplanon insertions and removals), OBGYN ultrasound and most office based gynecologic procedures. . We have an excellent in-house OB/GYN, Dr.Beverly Womack, who is a pillar of the healthcare system in Boone and a very well respected member of the community. She also runs a weekly GYN clinic in Ashe County, just outside of West Jefferson, NC, where our residents assist with managing pathologies in an underserved, rural setting.
Our resident clinic, AppFamily Medicine, offers Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT), and is the only clinic in the surrounding counties to do so. Additionally, the residency program is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in the area, and helps guide our patients through the challenges of the healthcare system, both in the outpatient and inpatient settings. Our program director, Dr.Molly Benedum, has a strong background in GAHT, and helps teach residents and medical students around the state about our work in LGBTQ+ care. We strongly believe that family medicine is for everyone, and welcome the insight that our LGBTQ+ partners, patients, and providers bring to our practice and our lives.
While Boone is by no means a dense urban area, it is often considered by locals to be “the city” in comparison to much of the surrounding region. Even from the heart of downtown, it only takes a short drive to get out of the city and deep into the valleys and hollows of Western North Carolina. Surrounding counties have poor access to healthcare, particularly primary care, pediatrics, and women’s health, and providing that care is a central tenet to our residency program. Many of our clinics serve populations from all across Western North Carolina, and even a strong contingency from Tennessee, who need to cross state lines to access healthcare.
Ashe County Clinic
At present, we provide GYN care to Ashe County through an outlying clinic run by our OB/GYN faculty member Dr.Beverly Womack. She has a long-standing relationship with the community there, and has worked diligently to integrate resident learning into her practice. With time, we plan to build on the foundation laid by Dr.Womack, and expand this clinic for the benefit of the local community.
Baker Center for Primary Care
Named for our faculty member and local legend Dr.Charlie Baker, the Baker Center for Primary Care is located within Cannon Memorial Hospital, a critical access hospital in Newland, NC. The Baker Center serves patients of all ages, as well as providing prenatal care via family physicians and midwives. Our residents rotate at the Baker Center frequently, and work with faculty members there while on their Family Medicine Outpatient rotation. We hope to expand our resident presence in the Baker Center as the residency grows in size.
Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital
Cannon Hospital is an acute care hospital built in 1999 to provide healthcare access to Avery County. It is located in Linville, NC, at the center of the county. In 2008, this hospital began to offer inpatient psychiatric services in an effort to close the extremely wide gaps in mental health coverage for rural people. It currently offers a 27-bed inpatient facility as well as a robust outpatient center for therapy and non-urgent psychiatric management. Have a look at the facilities on this video tour. At present, our residents rotate through both the inpatient and outpatient psychiatric facilities, the Baker Center, and the Cannon ED.
In the course of exploring the rugged beauty of Appalachia, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Our area is filled with opportunities to adventure in nature, and unfortunately this can translate to higher incidences of injuries and illnesses sustained in the wilderness. Our Wilderness Medicine curriculum is headed by Dr.Dave Brendle, our Assistant Program Director, who has a passion for exploring the outdoors, and caring for those who travel alongside him. The Wilderness Medicine curriculum is an opportunity that is open to all residents.
Our Wilderness Medicine Curriculum includes regular didactic sessions, AWLS (Advanced Wilderness Life Support) training, the opportunity to join National Ski Patrol, local and away electives, and becoming a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
Our residency partners with AppOrtho to provide Sports Medicine training to our residents. Working with Drs. Matthew Giordanengo, Benjamin Parker, and Chris Bullers, our residents receive extensive exposure to many facets of Sports Medicine, including working with Appalachian State University’s various athletic teams to provide on-field treatment for injuries at football, soccer, and basketball games. Our residents will also occasionally travel with the App Football Team to provide sideline care at bowl games and other various tournaments across the country!
Additionally, AppOrtho hosts a Primary Care Sports Fellowship through MAHEC which accepted its first fellow in 2022. At present, we have a recurrent Ultrasound Lecture Series from our Sports Medicine colleagues, and plan to continue growing and integrating our residents into other Sports Medicine curriculum and events. Dr.Giordanengo also works with our residents at AppFamily and the Baker Center.
Point of Care Ultrasound
Part of providing well-rounded care for our patients involves translating our information and skill sets from the inpatient to outpatient settings. Ultrasound is one such skill that spans the spectrum of rural family medicine, and our residents receive a wide range of exposure to US techniques and hands-on practice in both settings. There are regularly scheduled POCUS didactics from our local US guru and faculty member Dr.Daniel Goble, and residents are encouraged to diagnose and treat conditions in the inpatient setting with the assistance of basic US techniques (pneumothorax, heart failure, ascites, DVT, central line placement, etc). In the outpatient clinic, residents use US to assist with management of abscesses, breast masses, muscular complaints, and ocular pathologies. We have plans to expand our outpatient US teaching by providing the clinic with new machines and faculty training in the next calendar year. Additionally, residents are exposed to and can perform pelvic US in both the family medicine and local OB/GYN clinics. Sports Medicine is also a focus of our ultrasound program, and we have regular didactic sessions with Sports Medicine faculty and fellows. At present, there is a 2-week US elective for PGY3 residents.
Migrant Farmworker Care
Our residency is currently working with a local FQHC, High Country Community Health (HCCH), to provide care to the large population of migrant farmworkers that move to Boone seasonally for work. Many of these individuals are struggling with maintaining access to their home medications, obtaining healthcare for new illnesses, and navigating a healthcare system that does not primarily use their native language. Currently, our second year residents work at HCCH in Boone and Newland, NC as part of their outpatient rotations. We are also in the process of integrating residents into local farm visits to diagnose and treat patients on-site. These farm visits should start in the Fall of 2022.
Boone is a unique area for many reasons, but perhaps the most apparent is the stunning landscape. We boast easy access to countless trails, streams, mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers throughout the region, and anyone within driving distance to Boone is likely only minutes away from escaping into the wilderness. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a stunning sight and is frequently used by residents and faculty as they commute to work. The Parkway also provides several jump-off points to hikes, bouldering areas, and public water access for swimming, kayaking, and fishing.
Additionally, Boone offers four distinct seasons throughout the year. To help you understand some of the details about living here, we’ve listed some common activities and information about our seasons year-round:
Summer is warm enough for regular tubing trips down the Watauga River (a favorite for our Class of 2024), hammock or tent camping, and kayaking at Price Lake. Appalachian State brings a strong college-age population to Boone, and the summer is a quieter time as a result. Temperatures range from 60-75F and we get most of our rain in the summer, which is helpful for both local farmers and kayakers.
Fall is full of vibrant foliage–visitors come from across the country to watch the leaves change, and locals host several quaint Autumnal activities (hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, etc). In Boone, Fall temperatures typically range from 50-65F, with our first frosts (and snow!) starting in late November. This is a great time for hiking, walks through the Greenway, and attending App State football games.
Winter brings yet another transformation to Boone, with an average of 33 inches of snow a year. Boone is one of the snowiest places in North Carolina, and our town is well-equipped to handle the challenges of winter weather. Our roads are regularly salted and scraped in the winter months, and the hilly geography provides one of the premier sledding environments on the east coast. Our ski resorts are open in the winter, and all three are an easy drive from Boone. The temperatures in Winter range from 25-45F, but any local will tell you it’s the wind that makes it cold. Many homes in Boone come equipped with a fireplace, so get ready to cozy up!
Spring in Boone is a gentle experience. As the snow and ice melt, the surrounding landscape is covered in greenery and the wildlife comes out again to eat our gardens. Any distance from downtown Boone is bound to bring you in contact with deer, rabbits, foxes, and a wide array of songbirds and wildflowers. The temperatures in spring range from 40-70F, and we sometimes have a late dusting of snow in March or April. Spring is the perfect time for long hikes.
Patient Populations and Local Culture
Boone hosts a dynamic range of populations which change throughout the year, and this pattern ensures that our residents see a wide range of patients, from college students to farmers.
During the school year, Appalachian State University more than doubles the population of Boone with students from across the country. App State is a private university that provides a strong sense of identity for many residents of Boone, both locals and transplants alike. These students, along with the many professors and lecturers staffed by App State, bring a unique flavor to the local culture, as well. App State hosts many events throughout the year including stadium concerts, sporting events, art galleries, cultural festivals, theater productions, operas, symphonies, and ballets. We see many of these students in our primary resident clinic, and their presence in our patient population helps provide our residents with a diverse training experience.
Boone is also a destination for many retirees throughout the year, and we often treat individuals who spend part of their year in NC and the remainder elsewhere in the country. This also brings a broad range of pathologies and helps our residents learn to manage health information and patient data across the healthcare system. Often, these travelers will settle in the hills of North Carolina and become part of our permanent patient panel.
Lastly, Boone and the surrounding areas are full of local people who can trace their ancestry through these valleys for generations. Many are farmers who continue to work the land–raising livestock, growing their own food, and providing valuable resources for local restaurants, markets, and townsfolk. Interestingly, there is also a strong contingency of Christmas Tree farmers, as our area is very suited for growing Fraser Firs. In a 2017 survey by the USDA, Watauga County was found to have 520 farms, covering nearly 50,000 acres of land. A staggering 99% of those farms are family farms, reflecting the commitment to place so many people feel in Western North Carolina. These farmers, both in Watauga County and its bordering counties (Wilkes, Ashe, Avery, and Caldwell) often have poor and inconsistent access to healthcare. We consider it a particular point of pride to care for our local farmers because we believe it is only through their commitment to the land and local culture that we can all continue to thrive in Appalachia.
Our residency strives to provide broad-based family medicine to our patients, and we are proud to be a central force in building healthcare systems for all people in our community.
Hospital Administration and Local Physician Support
One of the primary benefits of being in a community hospital is the sense of connection and mutual care that is fostered in smaller environments. This is very apparent in our relationship to hospital administration, who make every effort to support our residents as this program continues to grow and change. Several of our faculty members are on the hospital board and have significant influence on the direction of hospital policy and practice, and our residents are made part of the healthcare community from their first day on site. Both the CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), Chuck Mantooth, and our Chief Physician Executive, Dr.Danielle Mahaffey, work out of the office directly adjacent to the resident workroom, and, as a result, our residents interact with the highest level of hospital administration on a regular basis. The leadership at ARHS is completely independent and non-profit, so management decisions can be made for the benefit of the local community without compromising care for a bottom line.
We are proud to have strong relationships with local providers, and the “small town” feel of Boone allows our residents to quickly integrate into the healthcare system. Our specialist providers often work with residents directly in a clinical setting, as well as providing lectures for our afternoon didactic sessions. This builds a mutual understanding between residents and specialists and creates a relaxed, friendly environment for referrals and consultations. The fresh nature of our program allows for residents to build out their own electives when there isn’t a formal relationship in place, providing the opportunity for strong, systems-based learning that can’t be taught in a classroom. As with MAT, LGBTQ+ care, Integrated Prenatal Care, and Wilderness Medicine, our residents are often working within local systems to provide better care for our patients, and we are happy to have steady, positive support from both hospital administration and local physicians.
Community Events and Engagement
Boone is a thriving creative community which hosts local events throughout the year. Surrounding communities also celebrate longstanding cultural traditions which help develop a strong sense of place in the hills of North Carolina. Our residents are welcomed and encouraged to attend these events, and they often organize group outings to experience the community together. All of the towns listed below are within an hour’s drive of Boone, and traveling to these festivals is often part of the experience. Providing our residents the opportunity to experience local cultures, traditions, and gatherings within the beautiful setting of Appalachia is strongly valued at our residency.