"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone...whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something."
-Sandra Day O'Connor

Propelling Adolescents Towards Careers in HealthCare

The deadline has passed to receive PATCH Applications. Applications for the next cycle will be available in November 2021.

The PATCH Program is an eight-week curriculum for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school students. Participants learn how to conduct and present scientific research, shadow healthcare professionals and engage in other personal and professional development experiences.

PATCH began in 2015 and has helped more than 150 students learn more about healthcare careers. The PATCH program aligns with Atrium Health, Workforce Development department goals to increase awareness about the wide range of healthcare career opportunities to underrepresented populations. 

PATCH learning sessions are held on consecutive Saturdays in the early spring at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center (CMC). 

On This Page:  

Why PATCH Exists

The mission of PATCH is to provide students in underserved communities with an equal opportunity to learn about and pursue a career in healthcare, ultimately producing a more diverse healthcare workforce that reduces health disparities in Charlotte communities.

Who Should Apply?

Applications will be accepted again November 2021.

1.  Current CMS high school sophomores (10th graders)
2.  Students who qualify for free/reduced lunches as part of the National School Lunch Program OR attend one of the following CMS Title-1 High schools

    a.  West Charlotte
    b.  Garinger
    c.  Vance
    d.  Harding 
    e.  West Mecklenburg

3.  Students who are able to attend all eight Saturdays on which PATCH program sessions will be held (dates listed below) and willing to participate in additional personal and professional opportunities throughout their junior and senior year of high school.

Meet the Med Students


Note: The 2020-2021 PATCH Program is 8 weeks (not 9 weeks as mentioned in the video) and sessions may be held virtually.

 Meet PATCH Scholar Lachu Adhikari

My name is Lachu Adhikari, and I was a junior at Garinger High School. I am from Nepal, but I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day, I hope to  become a cardiac surgeon. As I went through the PATCH, I learned a lot of things about medical care, but my favorite topics were OB/GYN or anything surgery-related. Outside of PATCH, I play soccer for Garinger High School, work with the National Honor Society, and serve as vice-president for the Nepali Youth Club.  






How to Apply

Applications will be accepted again November 2021.

Step 1: Complete the PATCH Program Application online.  

Step 2: Request one familiar adult (teacher preferred, or coach, community leader, supervisor at work, etc.) to complete and submit an Evaluation.   

  • The Teacher Evaluation can be submitted online.
  • Evaluations will be emailed. More information can be found in the For CMS Teachers section of this page.  

Step 3: Obtain 1 unofficial School Transcript and upload a copy to your online PATCH Program Application. Very important - we suggest that you take and upload a picture of your transcript with your cell phone or mobile device. Please ensure your cumulative GPA is clearly visible in the transcript picture you upload.

Second Round Interview Day

Applicants will be notified in December if they are offered an invitation to participate in the second round Interview Day at Carolinas Medical Center.  Applicants will be interviewed by PATCH Coordinators, medical students, and advisory board members. Interview Day attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in learning experiences and talk with PATCH Alumni about their experience with the PATCH Program.   

Estimated Spring 2021 PATCH Program Schedule
Participants will meet eight consecutive Saturdays in the spring:

  • January 9, 2021
  • January 16, 2021 
  • January 23, 2021 
  • January 30, 2021
  • February 6, 2021
  • February 13, 2021 
  • February 20, 2021 
  • February 27, 2021

A more detailed schedule of each day will be sent out to all accepted participants in December. 

For CMS Teachers

If you know a student who has a passion to pursue a career in healthcare and would like an opportunity to gain hands-on experience, please share information about the PATCH program.

Ways to do this:    

  1. Discuss the PATCH Program with your students.       
  2. Offer to complete a evaluation for a student applying to the program. Students will need to enter the teacher/mentor’s email address in the Evaluator section of the PATCH Application. An evaluation will automatically be sent to the teacher/mentor.    

PATCH Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does it cost to participate?
The PATCH program is free to participants thanks to the support of community partners.

What if I have a conflict with one of the scheduled Saturday sessions?
Please email your conflicts to the PATCH program coordinators at or include it with your application. We will not automatically exclude applicants for consideration just because they need to miss a session (depending on the circumstances), although to get the most out of the program, we encourage applicants to do their best to make themselves available for the 8 Saturdays scheduled.

Will this help me get a job or into school?
While we cannot guarantee that participation in the PATCH program will result in a job or admission into school, we can promise that it will provide you with invaluable experience which participants can speak about during interviews or write about in admission essays. It will also allow participants to build connections with community partners and Atrium Health Workforce Development that could also open opportunities.

What is a typical Saturday like in the PATCH program?
A typical Saturday will start at 8am and end before noon. (The schedule is a rough approximation and subject to change) 

Applicants will be notified by December if they are offered an invitation to participate in PATCH. 

8:00-10:30am: Participants will meet and talk with healthcare professionals. Each Saturday you will learn a new service to gain exposure to various fields in healthcare. Participants will engage in professionalism, personal development, and clinical skill-building activities. 

10:30-12:00pm: Participants will work in their assigned groups to complete a Community Health Research Project by researching a public health topic of their choice that they see affecting their community. These group projects will be presented during the closing ceremonies on the last Saturday of PATCH.  

PATCH Program Founders and Advisor

Melissa Rolfsen, MD, MPH

Melissa is currently in her combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at UNC-Chapel Hill. She graduated from UNC School of Medicine in 2018. Prior to beginning medical school, she taught two years (2010-2012) of Earth and Environmental Science at Garinger High School through Teach For America. This built a passion for school health and led her to obtain her Masters of Public Health in Health Behavior (2014) from UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health before pursuing medical school. She helped launch the PATCH Program during the 2nd year of her MPH. Melissa hopes to work in a school-based health center one day in order to merge her two main passions for working with adolescents and education.


Kyle Roedersheimer, MD

Kyle taught three years of Chemistry at Garinger High School (2009-2012), as part of the Teach for America program prior to beginning Medical School in 2012. While teaching, he was exposed to the need for PATCH and drew inspiration from his former students. Kyle helped launch the PATCH Program while completing third year clinical rotations at Carolinas Medical Center as a UNC School of Medicine - Charlotte Campus student in 2014. After graduation in May of 2016, he began a residency in Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center finished in 2019. He is excited to continue at CMC and is looking forward to continuing the growth of the program and fighting to reduce health disparities in the Charlotte area.


Kahra Nix, MD

Kahra graduated from UNC School of Medicine in 2015, and she is currently an Emergency Medicine Resident at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA. She taught two years (2009-2011) of Biology at West Charlotte High School as a part of the Teach For America program prior to beginning Medical School in 2011.






Iris S. Cheng, MD, FACP and PATCH Program Faculty Advisor

Dr. Cheng is the founding faculty advisor for PATCH and is a primary care doctor of internal medicine and a medical educator. She has taught medical students and residents for over 30 years and is honored to be working with high school students who will be the future of our healthcare workforce. As a Professor of Medicine, she serves as the Director of the Ambulatory Internal Medicine Clerkship and Director of Interprofessional Education for our medical school campus here at Atrium Health and has cared for underserved patients her entire career. She also works in the Atrium Health Division of Community Health supporting the mission to achieve health equity in all communities. 




Donate to PATCH

The PATCH Program is grateful for the support of the dedicated community volunteers, medical students, and healthcare professionals at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center who help make our program possible!

If you are interested in helping us with our mission by volunteering your time or offering financial support, please follow the steps below and we will be in touch!

Donate Online

Make a Donation to the PATCH Program

  1. In the Select an amount section, find the What would you like your donation to support drop-down
  2. From the drop-down menu, select PATCH

All donations are tax deductible.

Interested in Volunteering?

Email us at, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance for your generosity, which will help ensure the sustainability of the PATCH Program.