"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 (PATCH)

Applications for both PATCH programs are currently closed. Applications will be available in September and October 2024. Please check back for more information regarding the PATCH Regional and PATCH CLT applications. 

PATCH is a pathway program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds that provides exposure to various health professions. The program is a collaboration with Atrium Health Medical Education, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Workforce Development.  

The mission of PATCH is to provide students from low resource communities with an equal opportunity to learn about and pursue a career in healthcare. Our hope is that through diversifying the healthcare workforce, we will reduce health disparities in Charlotte and surrounding communities.

The PATCH program began in 2015 and has helped more than 300 students learn about healthcare careers. The PATCH program aligns with Atrium Health, goals to increase awareness about the wide range of healthcare career opportunities to among under-represented populations.

On This Page:

There are two distinct PATCH programs:

1. New! PATCH Regional Program (will begin Fall 2024) targets 10th and 11th grade students in the counties surrounding Mecklenburg County.  These counties include Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Stanly County, and Union County Schools.
        a. Who Should Apply? 

2. PATCH CLT Program (begins January 2025), will continue to focus on 10th and 11th grade students from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.
        a. Who Should Apply? 

3. For CMS Teachers
4. PATCH Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
5. PATCH Founders
6. Donate to Patch or Volunteer with PATCH


About the PATCH Regional Program

Applications for PATCH Regional will be available soon on September 5, 2024. 

The PATCH Regional Program provides students in rural, underserved communities with exposure to careers in healthcare. This is the inaugural year for the PATCH Regional Program which will extend the legacy PATCH Program experience to surrounding areas, outside Charlotte.

The PATCH Regional Program is a four-week curriculum for regional high school students. Sessions will be held virtually with one in-person session.  

Who Should Apply to PATCH Regional Program (high schools students in counties surrounding Mecklenburg county only)

  1. Current high school sophomores (10th graders) or Juniors (11th graders) from Cabarrus, Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Stanly County, and Union County Schools are welcome to apply. 

  2. Students who qualify for free/reduced lunches as part of the National School Lunch Program OR are first-generation bound college students in their family.  

  3. Applicants should be available to participate in the PATCH Regional Schedule coming soon.  

About the PATCH CLT Program (Charlotte Mecklenburg School high school students only)

Applications for Spring 2025 will be available October 2024.

The mission of PATCH CLT Program is to provide students in our urban underserved communities with an equal opportunity to learn about and pursue a career in healthcare, ultimately producing a more diverse healthcare workforce.  

The PATCH CLT Program is a curriculum offered over 16weeks for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school students. Participants learn how to engage in personal and professional development experiences through interactive sessions lead by health professionals and conduct and present scientific research coached by medical students and faculty of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Atrium Health resident physicians. 

PATCH learning sessions are held every other Saturday from January through April at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center (CMC), our flagship hospital and learning campus. 

The PATCH Program will be celebrating its 10 years and the collaboration between the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Atrium Health Medical Education and the Work Force Development department.

Who Should Apply to PATCH CLT? 

1.  Current Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school sophomores (10th graders) or Juniors (11th 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. Garinger
b. Harding
c. Hawthorne
d. Performance Learning Center
e. West Charlotte
f. West Mecklenburg
g. Julius Chambers
h. CMS Virtual High School

3.  PATCH CLT 2025 will be a hybrid of five in-person sessions at Carolinas Medical Center and 3 virtual sessions. Students who can attend all eight Saturday sessions 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.  Opportunities for mentorship with a healthcare professional will be offered. 

Meet PATCH Scholar Angela Sapu

“Since I could remember, I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved in medicine and healthcare, specifically by becoming a pediatrician. Participating in the PATCH Program gave me the opportunity to get an inside look of the clinical setting in various specialties such as Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, ICU Nursing, and Rehab Therapy. From working on a public health research project to interactive workshops, this program has helped me see a more comprehensive side to medicine that I haven’t seen before. I feel surer in my career choice of becoming a doctor and advocating for public and global health for everyone.”



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. Share the below PATCH flyers with students, parents, teachers and anyone interested

    • PATCH CLT (CMS High School students only)
    • PATCH Regional (High school students in counties surrounding Mecklenburg)
  3. 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.

How do I know if I attend a CMS Title-1 High school? 
The current list of CMS Title-1 High schools are:  

  • Garinger 
  • Harding 
  • Hawthorne 
  • Performance Learning Center 
  • West Charlotte 
  • West Mecklenburg  
  • Julius Chambers 
  • CMS Virtual High School 

What if I have a conflict with one of the scheduled Saturday sessions?
Please email your conflicts to the PATCH program coordinators 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 a valuable 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 9am and end before noon on virtual days; and by 2pm on in-person days. (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. 

1st Half of Session: 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. 

2nd Half of Session: Participants will work in teams with students from other schools to complete a Community Health Research Project by researching a public health topic they observe affecting their community. These group projects will be presented during the closing ceremonies on the last Saturday of PATCH. 

PATCH Program Founders and Director

Iris S. Cheng, MD, FACP and PATCH Program Director 

Dr. Cheng is the founding faculty advisor and program director for PATCH. She is a physician in general internal medicine and a medical educator who has taught medical students and residents for over 30 years. Dr. Cheng is honored to be working with high school students who will be the future of our healthcare workforce. As Clinical Professor of Medicine of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, she has served in multiple leadership roles for our medical school campus at Atrium Health and has cared for underserved patients throughout her career. She is committed to advancing health equity for all. 




Erika Steinbacher, MD, and PATCH Regional Program Director

Dr. Steinbacher, is a physician and faculty member with Cabarrus Family Medicine Residency Program since 1996.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine.  She enjoys being able to care for the whole family over years and generations in family medicine.  She enjoys working with underserved populations through her practice and community service.





Melissa Rolfsen, MD, MPH

Dr. Rolfsen graduated from UNC School of Medicine in 2018 and completed an Medicine-Pediatric Residency at UNC in 2022. She now works as a hospital internist in Raleigh, NC.  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.




Jonathan Beni, Director of Administration and Recruiting – Atrium Health Workforce Development

As an HR Consultant under Workforce Strategy, Jon oversees the logistical administration of the PATCH Programs as well as student recruitment.  He has a passion for pipeline programs that promote upward mobility at Atrium Health.





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

Gifts made to support the PATCH Program through the HOPE Fund are administered by Atrium Health Foundation (tax ID/EIN 56-6060481).

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.

Last Updated on 06/18/2024