The Asheville campus provides clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students at MAHEC,
regional hospitals, and outpatient practices in Western North Carolina utilizing an innovative longitudinal curriculum
that has been replicated across the nation.
UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus opened with four students in July 2009 with the support of
the UNC School of Medicine, Mission Health, and MAHEC. Since then, the Asheville campus has grown to
more than 30 Application Phase students per year.
Longitudinal Integrated Curriculum
The foundation of this program, the longitudinal integrated curriculum, is similar to Harvard's
"Cambridge Model" in which third-year medical students are placed in longitudinal integrated
clerkships (LICs) in outpatient settings for the majority of their curriculum allowing them to
follow patients across healthcare settings.
The Asheville campus has a cadre of dedicated teachers and a greater reliance on outpatient teaching.
Students have more exposure to experienced practicing physicians and are more likely to see the same
patients over an extended period of time and through the continuum of care.
The Asheville community is well suited to this type of curriculum with its diverse specialty
practices and robust primary care services.
Flexibility of unscheduled half days for self-directed learning
The Application Phase
The Application Phase academic calendar at Asheville is comprised of three blocks with a mix of two
types of clinical experiences. The inpatient experience is 15 weeks and includes surgery, internal
medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, cardiology, and ob/gyn. In addition, students complete twenty 5-hour
emergency medicine shifts throughout the course of the year. The remainder of the weeks are spent in
the longitudinal outpatient setting.
The three blocks are as follows:
Block A: 12 weeks of inpatient care/3 weeks of flex time
These weeks are not consecutive but are spread out over the
Flex weeks can be used for studying, assignments, research, exploring specialty
interests, ED shifts, making up clinical time, shelf exams, additional
inpatient/outpatient time, etc.
Block B: 15 weeks of outpatient care
Students will receive a personalized outpatient schedule with assigned preceptors for
family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and ob/gyn
Students will work one-on-one with their preceptors and have the opportunity to follow
continuity patients throughout their longitudinal outpatient time
Block C: 12 weeks of outpatient care/3 weeks of inpatient care
Student inpatient weeks in this block will be consecutive to allow for maximum
Student outpatient preceptors and schedule will stay the same for Blocks B and C
The Individualization Phase
The fourth-year curriculum reverts to block months. Asheville campus students have the same fourth-year requirements as Chapel Hill students. All required courses and many electives are available in
both Asheville and rural settings.
The ideal student for this program:
Demonstrates flexibility, self-reliance, and internal motivation
Has a strong academic record
Brings life experiences in self-directed learning and/or work
Also taken into consideration, but not required:
Has connections to Western North Carolina
Expressed interest in primary care, surgery, psychiatry and/or rural practice goals
Robyn Latessa, MD, is an innovative educator and leader, recognized internationally for her expertise in the longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC) model of medical education that prioritizes continuity of care and relationships. As director and assistant dean of the UNC School of Medicine Asheville campus since 2012, Dr. Latessa has been a catalyst for growth, expanding the program from four students per year in 2009 to 35 students by 2021. Many of the graduates of the UNC School of Medicine Asheville branch campus have remained in our MAHEC residency programs and are practicing here in Western North Carolina. Dr. Latessa has been a family physician in Asheville since joining MAHEC in 1999 and is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill. She enjoys mixed-methods educational research and has published several manuscripts, many specific to LIC medical education. Dr. Latessa is passionate about collaboration, mentorship, and transparent leadership in service to MAHEC’s mission for training healthcare professionals for Western North Carolina.
Outside of work, Dr. Latessa enjoys connecting with her daughters who are in college in Vermont, spending time with her partner and with her parents who recently moved to Asheville, cooking, hiking, and reading.
Sandy Whitlock, MD, has been a palliative care physician at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC since 2015. She received her medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Following internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, she completed the Harvard Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship.
After fellowship, she practiced as a palliative medicine attending at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and served as an Instructor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. While at MGH, Dr. Whitlock was active in teaching medical students, residents, and fellows. During her time in Boston, she also completed the Harvard Medical Ethics Fellowship.
Dr. Whitlock currently serves as the Assistant Program Director for the Asheville Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship and the Associate Program Director for the UNC School of Medicine Asheville Campus. She remains active in teaching learners at all levels. She is particularly interested in teaching advanced communication skills.
Sandy has loved living in Asheville with her husband and three kids. She loves running and gardening.
M. Kristin Chally, MD, has practiced Emergency Medicine in Asheville since 2005, and has been a preceptor for UNC School of Medicine students in the Emergency Department at Mission Hospital since 2011. She joined the leadership team of the UNC SOM Asheville Campus in 2019 as Assistant Program Director. She also serves as the Clinical Academic Resource Director and an Advisor. She enjoys both of these roles and the opportunity to help students navigate the challenges of medical school.
She attended Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, where she enjoyed hiking the upper part of the Appalachian Trail and playing sports. She received her medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University and attended many Baltimore Orioles games as well as camping trips to the coast. After medical school, she headed to the West Coast and completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of California School of Medicine. She spent her time off hiking in Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon as well as exploring the West Coast with her fellow resident/husband.
She has two kids, one who is in college in Minnesota, which is her home state. The other is in high school, but approaching college quickly. She loves spending time with her family and doing all sorts of outdoor activities.
Hello! I’m originally from Northwest Ohio, and joined the MAHEC family at the end of 2020. I completed my undergraduate at Kent State, and my MPH at the Ohio State University. (Go Bucks!) I completed my preclinical years of medical school at Howard University and my clinical training at the University of Toledo. I completed residency at Flower Hospital, which was also in Northwest Ohio.
Relationship building and assisting in the process of another person’s growth is something I appreciate. Coming to MAHEC I quickly realized the people here have a similar mindset, and had as much of a vested interest in me as I did in them. Coming to MAHEC has been a wonderful opportunity and has allowed me to focus on my special interests of both coaching as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion. My clinical interests include health promotion and wellness.
Beyond that, who doesn’t want to wake up every day in an amazingly beautiful place?! Consider it icing on the cake.
Jessica Poston holds a BS in Public Health from UNC Greensboro, and has been with MAHEC since 2006. She began her career here with the Division of Family Medicine, working primarily with the Family Medicine Residency Program. In 2013 she joined UNC School of Medicine Asheville Campus, where she now serves as Administrative Director.
Jessica is grateful that her roles with MAHEC and UNC SOM have offered her the opportunity to work with and come to know learners across a full spectrum, from prospective medical students, through residency, and to practicing physicians. Match Day still brings a special thrill every year.
A native of western North Carolina, Jessica enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling – especially if there’s a beach and a beautiful sunrise nearby.
Lisa Keiber has been with MAHEC for over 29 years. She has been given the opportunity to work in various positions throughout the organization, but has found her home with the UNC SOM Asheville Campus. She received her Bachelor’s degree from UNC Asheville.
Lisa currently serves as Program Administrator for the Asheville Campus, managing responsibilities for both Application and Individualization Phase students. She enjoys establishing connections and relationships with the students and watching them succeed in reaching their goals to become physicians.
Lisa grew up in Black Mountain and currently lives in Hendersonville with her husband. She loves spending time with her niece Scarlett, girl time with her sisters, and getting outdoors to run/walk in a few races.
Karen Vernon has spent the past three decades as part of the Asheville healthcare community, including CarePartners Health Services and Mission Health, before coming to the UNC School of Medicine Asheville Campus in July 2020. Her career has focused on the intersection of internal communications, human resources and leadership, and she continues to write and consult professionally in these areas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Emory & Henry College in her native Virginia.
In her current role as Curriculum Specialist, Karen manages the schedules of Application Phase (third year) students – everything from clinical rotations, to exams, to weekly didactics – and delights in spending her days surrounded by these bright young people. Away from work she loves creative writing, reading, gardening (badly), and sailing with her husband. She is mom to three young adult children and two unruly rescue dogs.
Christian Thompson has been involved with Administrative and Human Resources work over the last three years. He has his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following graduation, Christian came back to Western North Carolina to help serve his community through his work.
He currently works as the Operations Coordinator for the UNC School of Medicine Asheville Campus. He remains interested in giving back to his community and finds his position at MAHEC gives him the ability to do so.
Christian lives in Marion, North Carolina, but loves to visit Asheville on the weekends. He enjoys exploring the different restaurants in the area, hiking the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, and spending time with his family and friends.