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PLEASE NOTE: Greensboro AHEC is now known as Piedmont AHEC. The organization’s name changed on February 1, 2023.

Greensboro AHEC Expands ORPCE Housing in 2020 for Male, Female Medical Students in Rockingham County

New clinical rotations offered at Cone Health Annie Penn Hospital have increased need for student housing options in the area.

ORPCE Housing Living Room Example

The living room of Greensboro AHEC’s new ORPCE 3-bedroom apartment available to medical students on clinical rotations in Reidsville.

“Our students express gratitude for having nice housing that allows them to focus on the educational experience rather than the pressure of commuting or looking for temporary housing.”
—Bert Fields, MD

ORPCE Housing Kitchen Example

REIDSVILLE — Continuing in its mission to recruit, train, and retain health professionals and achieve better health outcomes across North Carolina, Greensboro Area Health Education Center (Greensboro AHEC) in 2020 has expanded the capacity of housing through its Office of Regional Primary Care Education (ORPCE) in mostly rural Rockingham County. The expansion serves a growing need to provide more diverse housing options for third-year medical students who often travel from the UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill — about 70 miles away — to engage in general surgery clinical rotations of four weeks or more at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville.

“Students staying late to provide medical care need to be able to stay in the community and not have to commute from Chapel Hill,” says Bert Fields, MD, director of undergraduate medical education for Greensboro AHEC.

A new co-ed three-bedroom apartment now replaces the one-bedroom apartment at Woodland Heights that previously housed just two students in Reidsville — the new apartment can accommodate up to six male or female students. With regard to COVID-19, students requesting ORPCE housing are advised to strictly follow noted guidelines and consider the inherent risks of living communally with other medical students on rotations. The housing allows no guests or pets at any time.   

“Our students express gratitude for having nice housing that allows them to focus on the educational experience rather than the pressure of commuting or looking for temporary housing,” says Dr. Fields. “it also allows them to be on call for teaching cases that present after standard work hours.”

Preceptors at Annie Penn Hospital welcome the housing expansion, which eases students’ ability to work one-on-one with medical professionals for 24 hours a day in a rural community, where specialists are often fewer and educational opportunities abound. Annie Penn currently offers the only general surgery clerkship for medical students in the Cone Health system.

“The clinical rotations at Annie Penn and expanded housing options support a goal we have in rural areas because there is a doctor shortage here,” says Mark Jenkins, MD, a general surgeon and clerkship director at Annie Penn Hospital. “Students on rotation at Annie Penn get to be higher in the pecking order and get to assist more directly on surgeries, resulting in a wider knowledge of ways to treat patients. They also work on a variety of diseases that you often can’t just write a quick consult for.”

Looking into the future, Greensboro AHEC hopes to soon be able to bring students from other state and regional medical schools, such as Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, for general surgery rotations and new clerkships at Annie Penn.  

“Ideally, we are working to arrange for an elective rotation in hospitalist medicine (acute illness) to start at Annie Penn, possibly in the next 12 months” says Dr. Fields. “Rural healthcare is a top priority for all of medical education.” 

If you are interested in becoming a preceptor or want more information, contact ORPCE Coordinator Tonya Crawford-Baldwin, MA, at 336.832.8566 or

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