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USA Match Day opens doors

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marchFrom classrooms to white coats: What the future holds

On March 16, 2012, at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, senior medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine found out this year’s Match Day results. The National Residency Matching Program, or Match Day, is the annual event in which future doctors learn where they will be doing their residency training.

Senior medical student, Ashleigh Butts-Wilkerson, had her eyes set on the USA College of Medicine family medicine residency program.

Butts-Wilkerson is from Frankville, Ala. – a small community in Washington County. She attended USA for undergraduate and received her B.S. in biomedical sciences in 2008. She is an Ernest DeBakey Scholarship recipient. The Ernest G. DeBakey Charitable Foundation gives scholarship funds to USA medical students who commit to serving in rural Alabama communities as primary care doctors for at least five years after medical school and residency training.

Being a doctor has been a childhood dream of Butts-Wilkerson.

“As a high school student, I watched my grandfather battle cancer,” Butts-Wilkerson said.  “When I was able to go with him, he would always tell his physicians who I was and that I wanted to be a doctor one day.  He called me ‘Dr. Butts’.”

Butts-Wilkerson’s dreams of becoming a physician were further solidified after watching the impact that physicians made on her grandfather, Butts-Wilkerson said.

“I had many people tell me throughout high school that I would change my mind about what I wanted to be when I got to college, but I knew I wouldn’t,” Butts-Wilkerson said. “I had my heart set on becoming a physician – a family practice physician.”

Butts-Wilkerson served on the USA College of Medicine admissions committee and is a member of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Student Mentoring and Advising Program, the Christian Medical and Dental Association and the Family Medicine Interest Group, among others.

After matching in family medicine at USA, Butts-Wilkerson said she was thrilled.

“The USA College of Medicine offers a host of unique educational opportunities that other students have told me they missed out on while attending a different institution,” Butts-Wilkerson said. “I am very confident in the training that I have received here, and I know it will serve me well in residency and my career.”

After residency, Butts-Wilkerson plans to return to a rural area to practice.

“I hope to be able to work somewhere close to where I grew up – Clarke or Washington County – in order to give back to those that have given so much to me throughout the years,” Butts-Wilkerson said. “I enjoy small town life and feel that’s where I could be of greatest service.”

Phillip Bates, another fourth-year medical student at USA, and his fiancée Hannah Eason, also a fourth-year medical student, attended Match Day to find out where they will do their residencies. Phillip Bates’ younger brother, Nicholas Bates, also attends the USA College of Medicine as a second-year medical student.

Phillip and Eason couples matched at this year’s celebration. They found out that they will both be doing their residencies at the University of Florida College of Medicine - Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. Phillip will be completing residency training in medicine-preliminary/radiology and Hannah will be doing her residency in emergency medicine.

Phillip received his undergraduate degree from USA and the two met while in medical school. They are planning to get married in the summer of 2013.

“The most important personal impact that USA has made is that I met my fiancee in medical school,” Phillip said. “It is great having my fiancee in the same class because we both understand what each other are going through.”

Now that Hannah and Phillip have found out their results from Match Day, younger brother Nicholas will be receiving his white coat in May/June, at a ceremony that makes signifies the transition into clinical experiences.

Nicholas has been able to look up to Phillip and Hannah when he needed help throughout medical school.

“I can remember one particular occasion in which Hannah helped my friends and me immensely,” Nicholas said. “The final for my Introduction to Clinical Medicine class consisted of performing physical exams on classmates while being graded by residents.  Hannah demonstrated and taught us all of the procedures in which we were evaluated.”

Phillip enjoys being able to help his younger brother when he can.

“Sometimes Hannah and I are able to give my brother a more clinical perspective of what he is currently studying,” Phillip said. “And, sometimes Nicholas will even quiz me on something he is studying to test my memory.”

As a family, these students have been able to share their experience in medical school at the USA College of Medicine.

“Going through medical school with Nicholas has really shown me how unique each medical school class is and a reminder of how difficult the first two years were for me,” Hannah said.  “I am really grateful for the conversations that I have with Nicholas and for the chances to help him with things that I struggled with during my years in medical school.”

Written by Amber Day | Staff Writer

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