Student: Felicia Branch

Felicia Branch, a Brody School of Medicine student, has seen the impact that representation and diversity have on patient experiences. Before entering medical school, Branch worked as a technologist in a catheterization lab.

Felicia Branch, an ECU student in the Brody School of Medicine, collaborated with two other students to develop a Tiana Nicole Williams Scholars grant-funded project to educate at-risk youth on building healthy relationships and preventing interpersonal violence.

“In my interactions, many patients expressed gratitude for the comfort they felt in encountering someone who looked like them. As the youngest and only African American female in my department at the time, I became acutely aware of the lack of positive minority representation in health care,” she said. “Through my immersion in the health care field, particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I witnessed the critical role that minority representation plays in shaping patients’ medical experiences. Regardless of socioeconomic, cultural or religious backgrounds, I believe we all share a common desire for health, fairness and respect.”

As a physician, Branch wants to tackle systemic issues that contribute to health disparities, advocate for equitable access to health care and work toward a future where everyone, regardless of background, can lead healthy and fulfilling lives, she said.

Her education at East Carolina University is providing opportunities to achieve those goals.

“I chose the Brody School of Medicine (BSOM) because I am drawn to the idea of practicing medicine in rural areas and addressing the many health care disparities that prevent rural populations from experiencing their highest health potentials,” Branch said. “I felt that BSOM’s mission statement aligned with these values and that the training I would receive would prepare me to address a wide range of pathologies and socioeconomic barriers.”

Branch has already been working to address domestic violence as a Brody student. She received a Tiana Nicole Williams Scholar grant, which she and classmates Krupa Trivedi and Meek Myoung used to collaborate with the Pitt County Department of Social Services to work with at-risk youth.

“Together, we developed and facilitated activities designed to educate participants on building healthy relationships, preventing interpersonal violence and increasing awareness of age-appropriate health maintenance practices,” she said. “Building trust and rapport with participants required genuine compassion and a willingness to listen without judgment. Despite facing numerous obstacles, they each showed incredible strength and determination to overcome adversity and create better futures for themselves. Their resilience serves as a reminder of the transformative power of social support, encouragement and opportunity.”

The experience has reinforced Branch’s commitment to address societal issues through health care and community engagement, she said.

One of the most valuable aspects of her education at Brody has been exposure to a diverse patient population, Branch said.

“Through clinical rotations and hands-on experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to encounter medically complex cases, including rare clinical diagnoses and conditions,” she said. “These encounters have not only expanded my medical knowledge but also deepened my understanding of the intricacies of patient care.”

Branch, a Henderson native, is entering her fourth year at Brody. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in radiologic science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017.

Away from the classroom, Branch enjoys spending time with her dog, Ponyo, family and friends.

Following graduation in May 2025, Branch plans to continue her medical training as an internal medicine resident physician with the goal of becoming a critical care doctor.

This Pirate aims to improve the health of rural residents by reducing disparities and increasing access to care.


Name: Felicia Branch

College: Brody School of Medicine

Major: Doctor of Medicine

Age: 29

Classification/Year: Fourth year medical student

Hometown: Henderson

Hobbies/interests: Cooking, gardening and spending time with my pup, Ponyo, friends and family

Clubs and Organizations: I Am First, Student National Medical Association, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, American Registry of Radiologic Technologists


Favorite hangout: Coastal Fog

Favorite place on campus: Brody Duck Pond

Favorite place to eat: Burnin 99

Favorite class: Immunology with Dr. Mark Mannie

Professors who influenced you the most: Dr. Kori Brewer and Dr. Drew Baker

Favorite TV show: “The Office”

Favorite band/musician: Lauryn Hill

Favorite movie: “Imitation of Life”


Dream job: Critical care physician

Role model: My parents, Karen and Steven Branch Sr.

Your words to live by: “There is no testimony without a test” and “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

What advice do you have for other students? Use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s a natural part of the learning process. Have confidence in your abilities and believe that you have what it takes to overcome any challenge that comes your way!

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? One cool aspect about ECU that I wish I had known during my first year is the access students have to the simulation center and simulation-based activities. It gives students an opportunity to practice and refine our clinical skills in a controlled environment before encountering them in actual patient care settings. Simulation-based learning allows us to simulate various clinical scenarios, from routine procedures to complex medical emergencies, in a safe and realistic setting. It not only enhances our technical skills but also helps us develop confidence, critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills essential for effective patient care.