Blue Ridge Community Health welcomes Dr. Rivers Woodward as the newest addition to their team in Lake Lure. Dr. Woodward is a native of Franklin, NC where he was homeschooled alongside his three siblings before leaving the mountains for UNC Chapel Hill.
Dr. Woodward graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in biology and theater with honors. While pursuing his Bachelor’s degree, he received a fellowship to travel for five months in India, Nepal, and China studying traditional eastern modalities of medicine. A year later, inspired by the work of Patch Adams to use humor and compassion to challenge medical hierarchy, Woodward developed a relationship with Patch as a mentor and traveled as a medical clown abroad as well as at home at UNC Children’s Hospital.
Following his undergraduate training, Dr. Woodward improved his Spanish fluency while working with biologists in Costa Rica. Following his time abroad, he attended UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine where he was a part of the inaugural cohort of Kenan Rural Primary Care Scholars. It was through this program that Woodward cultivated his passion for the practice of rural medicine and began to chart his way back to WNC. During his third year of medical school, seeing the need for more medical students from rural areas who wanted to practice in underserved parts of our state, Woodward and another classmate created Project PROMISE in Yancey and Mitchell counties. Now run by the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), and expanding to reach other counties, Project PROMISE was designed to provide exposure, guidance, and support for high school students from rural WNC who are interested in careers in healthcare.
Dr. Woodward was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha and Gold Humanism Honor Societies at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He completed his specialty training in Family Medicine at MAHEC in Asheville where he was one of twelve family medicine residents in the country to receive the American Academy of Family Physicians Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education.
While at MAHEC, he developed a passion for group medical visits as a way to help his patients come together to support each other and build community. He is passionate about practicing full-spectrum family medicine and using his broad skillset to adapt to the needs of the community. Areas of particular interest and experience include: pediatric obesity, pregnancy care, and addiction treatment.
In addition to being a country doctor, performing home visits, and taking time to get to know his patients, Woodward is a passionate advocate for the health needs of western North Carolina. As the incoming chair of the Western Carolina Medical Society board of directors, Dr. Woodward plans to continue to advocate for local and state policies that allow us to support our small community hospitals, access to care for pregnant women, and treatment for addiction and mental health in our communities.