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An accomplished physician himself, UNC School of Medicine alumnus Dr. William Nebel knows a good doctor when he sees one. And he says Dr. Amy Shaheen, his internist of more than a decade, fits the bill as “what a real doctor should be.”

Dr. Shaheen listens to her patients, making sure they have the time and trust to express all of their concerns and share their medical histories. She’s an excellent communicator, even when in the midst of the toughest conversations. She always ensures she is up to date on the latest research and best practices in medicine and pharmacology.

When Dr. Nebel sat down to think about the legacy he would leave his alma mater, the choice was an easy one—he wished to establish a fund to honor Dr. Shaheen and expose medical students to her patient-centered approach to medicine in the hopes that they, too, would listen to their patients, communicate well, and stay up-to-date in the field. Thus, the Amy Shaheen, MD Fund for Student Research and Quality Improvement was born.

Amy Shaheen, MD, MSc

The six-week quality improvement fellowship supported by the Amy Shaheen Fund gives students the opportunity to first learn about systems and approaches that create space for a physician to focus on patient care and then to implement these systems in a real-world primary care setting.

“I can do what I do because there are intentional and deliberate systems in place that allow me to spend my time getting to know a patient,” says Dr. Shaheen.

These intentional systems are rooted in the concept of quality improvement.

Dr. Shaheen was surprised and moved when she learned of Dr. Nebel’s plans. Through his generous gift, Dr. Nebel not only honored Dr. Shaheen, but gave her an opportunity to create a paid summer fellowship that immerses medical students in the concepts of quality improvement.

“Medical students have big hearts, and they want to better serve patients,” says Dr. Shaheen.

This year will mark the third year of the quality improvement fellowship supported by the Amy Shaheen Fund; four UNC School of Medicine students have benefited from the fellowship. Lucas Frickey, class of 2022, is one of these students and completed his fellowship in summer 2019. The Marine Corps Veteran applied to medical school after being stationed at Cherry Point for three years. Frickey is still exploring the medical specialty he’ll ultimately choose, which is one reason the fellowship was so appealing to him.

“What excited me about quality improvement is that it will play a role in my medical practice no matter the field I choose,” says Frickey. “Quality improvement will always impact patient care.”

Over the summer, Frickey implemented daily huddle meetings in the primary care clinic. With stopwatch in hand, he timed these daily, stand-up meetings that addressed issues related to safety, workflow, or other immediate concerns. He’s happy to report that the average length of the huddle was just five minutes. By spending those five minutes together at the start of the day, team members freed up hours of their time to focus on what matters the most—patient care. Frickey looks forward to applying this approach in his medical practice, whichever field that may be.

“The big benefit of the fellowship is that you can apply it anywhere, no matter what specialty you go into,” he says.

At its core, quality improvement is about creating space for the one-on-one relationships that define excellence in patient care. Dr. Nebel sums it up best: “Doctor-patient relationships are core to what it means to practice medicine. I wanted to be sure this continues.”

It is because of the relationship that his physician, Dr. Shaheen, developed with him that students like Frickey will leave UNC School of Medicine ready to put systems in place that support their relationships with patients—systems that mean big improvements in patient care.


To make a gift to the Amy Shaheen, MD Fund for Student Research and Quality Improvement, please click here.

For more information on how to support the Department of Medicine and physicians like Dr. Shaheen, please contact Beth Braxton, Director of Development, at 919-843-8254 or

11 Responses to ““What a Real Doctor Should Be””

  1. John Volney Allcott

    Hello Amy Shaheen MD,
    I was glad to see your efforts recognized and supported. Good job and thank you.
    I imagine you share a place with my mentor Jim Bryan.
    Thank you for your work. Keep it up and do some more. We need you.

    John Allcott MD
    Class 1971
    Eugene Or

  2. Janet

    Dr. Any Shaheen is both my husband’s and mine ( even recently our son’s ) primary care doctor. She is absolutely wonderful and takes time with us each visit. Dr. Shaheen is bright regarding her medical knowledge and explains her thoughts and options in an understandable way. She really cares about her patients. We feel so lucky that she is overseeing our medical care!

  3. Patricia Palmer

    Dr. Shaheen was my late husband’s primary care doctor and has been my pcp for almost 25 years. We both had/have complete confidence in the care she provides. She’s intelligent, up to date and most of all takes time to talk with her patients. She’s a beautiful person inside and out!???

  4. Maureen Andreassi

    Congratulations Amy! I remember our days in residency when we worked long hours trying to develop our skills and to provide outstanding care. I am so happy for you!

  5. Vance Fowler

    Well deserved recognition. As a previous colleague, I was struck by Amy’s genuine commitment to clinical excellence. A wonderful role model for the next generation of physicians.

  6. Betty J. Crosby, MD

    Congratulations on this honor, Dr. Shaheen! Dr. Nebel, you had a wonderful idea to recognize an outstanding clinician!

  7. Nate Warner

    Congratulations Dr. Shaheen! Your clinical, educational, and research work is inspiring and I’m so glad to work with you!

  8. Leslie Davis

    So deserving. Dr. Shaheen has been my provider for decades; first at another university and now at UNC. She is an exceptional provider, teacher, and most importantly communicator. If ever a health related encounter does not meet expectations, Dr. Shaheen is open to discussing an opportunity to improve the next time. I applaud this patient centered systems approach to mentoring future providers.

  9. Victor Ursan

    A doctor with a big heart, this is what a doctor should be, as I understand your message. Thank you for such a great message to the students body and doctors community.

  10. Catherine and David Sevier

    NO QUESTION! This is a well-deserved honor. My husband and I moved to Greensboro five years ago from Raleigh and continue to make the trip to see Dr. Shaheen. As she said to us just yesterday–she is our “advisor”, and I would add partner and resource for aging well. So glad she is impacting the next generation of students.

  11. Vanessa Ragland

    No one more deserving of this great honor than Dr. Shaheen! I followed her to UNC and if were to ever move to the North Pole, I would plan my vacations to the North Pole twice a year so she could still be my doctor. Her tremendous capability as a physician and equally immense capacity for caring for others in unmatched. It has been such a privilege to know her and to be her patient.

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