Hayley Cunningham, MD

Start Year


Versailles, KY

Where did you attend college/university?
Furman University

Where did you attend medical school?
University of North Carolina

What are your career goals?
Although I'm keeping my options open, I currently hope to specialize in infectious diseases so that I can serve as the primary care provider to patients with HIV and also provide gender affirming care to transgender patients.

What did you do the summer before Intern year?
I had a fabulous staycation! While I went to UNC in Chapel Hill for medical school, I spent my clinical years at the Asheville NC branch campus. I had never taken the opportunity to explore Durham or Raleigh, so I spent much of my pre-intern summer playing tourist!

"The faculty are incredibly supportive and invested in teaching. Mentorship is easy to find around here!"

-Hayley Cunningham

Reflections on the Duke Program

What were you looking for in a residency program?
I was looking for a program where I would be surrounded by driven and compassionate residents who strive to be the best they can be for the sake of their patients and their own personal growth.

What are the strengths of the Duke Program?
Where to start!? First and foremost, I believe the people who work with and learn from are the most important part of the residency experience. My fellow residents, attending physicians, and the program leadership/administration are incredibly supportive, encouraging, and fun! The people here are passionate and compassionate - inspiring without being intimidating. While all residency programs are rigorous and sleep-depriving at times, I feel Duke has struck a great balance with the 4+2 schedule; each month of inpatient time is balanced by two weeks of outpatient clinics where you have time to recharge, reconnect with your friends, and read up on interesting topics. As a leading hospital and internal medicine residency program, Duke is an excellent place to learn from world renowned experts and see interesting and rare medical cases. It's also a beautiful place to work, and the Triangle (Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh) is a great place to live and have fun!

What are your observations about the relationships between faculty and house staff?
The faculty are incredibly supportive and invested in teaching. Mentorship is easy to find around here!

Tell us about your co-interns. What has helped you connect, support each other, and form friendships?
One thing I love about the Duke residency program its large size - we're more than 60 including the prelims and combined programs! This creates a diverse group with wide range of backgrounds and interests. Whatever you like to do or who you like to hang out with, you can find your people. It also makes finding friends to spend your time off with fairly easy, because others will be off as well. We have two active GroupMe's for communication and coordination - one for academic matters and one for scheduling fun activities together!

What has surprised you most about Duke?
The compassionate and supportive environment. The program director, Dr. Aimee Zaas, blew me way with her love for the program and its residents. The residents are kind to one another and themselves, passionate about making a positive impact on their patients' lives and the world, while helping those around them succeed as well. The love and support I feel from the program administration and my fellow residents is amazing! I could not imagine a better program.

About Duke University and Durham

What is the best thing about living in Durham and the Triangle?
This area has so much to offer! Durham is an up-and-coming fun and artsy town with great restaurants and breweries,free music events, and nearby forests and quarries to explore. With just a 25 minute drive, you can find a fun "college vibe" in Chapel Hill. In 35 minutes, you can get your city nightlife fix in Raleigh. In 2.5 hours, you can explore the city of Charlotte or chill at the beach! And in 3.5 hours, you can find yourself surrounded by mountains, art, music, and fresh food in the beautifully eclectic Asheville! I love being active and spending time outdoors, and living here makes that easy - I regularly make time to go road biking in the countryside, swim in the Eno River Quarry, go Blues dancing, explore farmers markets, and take walks in the woods with friends.

Where did you choose to live and why?
I live on Erwin Road, so my commute to work is a 10 minute walk to the hospital! I love not having to worry about traffic and being able to get some time outside to clear my head. There are a few apartment buildings on Erwin Road in close proximity to one another (Lofts at Lakeview, Flats Exchange on Erwin, and Trinity Commons), and a number of residents live here. This makes it easy to coordinate spontaneous group gatherings by the pool or grill!

What advice would you give to someone looking to move to Durham?
Don't hesitate to reach out to current residents for their insights on housing and other moving logistics! We're all excited to have you and want to help make the transition as smooth as possible. I spent a lot of time researching a bunch of apartment options prior to visiting Durham, then I spent a weekend taking tours at the apartments I liked the best. This worked well for me!

What are your interests outside of medicine?
I love painting, dancing (Blues, Contra, Swing, Club), hiking, road biking, swimming, trying new restaurants, pot lucks, and exploring new places!