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Match Day brings cheers, tears

Amy Polen smiles wide after finding out she's headed for Norfolk, Va., for a residency in pediatrics at the Eastern Virginia School of Medicine. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Mar. 18, 2004)   —   The annual rite of passage for medical students known as Match Day was the cause of much celebration March 18 at the Brody School of Medicine.

For Dr. Cynda Johnson, it was her first Match Day as dean of the medical school but the 23rd for the school. And she was impressed with the results of the class.

“Match Day is a most exciting day in the life of our medical students,” said Dr. Cynda Johnson, dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “We have achieved an excellent balance in our training - half of our class of 2004 matching in primary care fields and half in other specialties. Thus, we are meeting our primary care mission, while making graduate training in all specialties accessible to our students.”

Class members matched to 44 institutions in 21 states. Forty-seven percent of the class chose to remain in North Carolina and 30 percent will be at University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.

Of the 79 students participating in the match, 48 percent chose primary care medicine. Primary care encompasses family medicine, internal medicine, medicine/pediatrics and pediatrics. That number rises to 57 percent when obstetrics/gynecology is added.

This year’s primary care total was down slightly from last year’s 65 percent.

The National Residency Match Program is a private, not-for-profit organization that provides a method for matching applicants for residency positions in the United States with residency programs at various teaching hospitals. Applicants and hospitals rank each other in order of preference and a computer matches them based upon those rankings.

Jeff Barwick received the first envelope to a round of cheers and applause from his classmates, their families, friends and Brody School of Medicine faculty and staff members. He will be going to Akron General Medical Center/Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Akron, Ohio, for an orthopedic surgery residency.

His classmate, Jennifer Turnbull, came not too long afterward. Her mother snapped a photo as Turnbull opened her envelope to learn she will be going to Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro in July to begin her family medicine residency.

“I’m thrilled. It was my first choice. It’s exactly where I wanted to go,” she said with a big smile.

Also getting their first choice were Meredith Watson of Smithfield and Brandon Locklear of Lumberton, who participated in the “couples match” option for their OB/GYN residency. They matched to Orlando (Fla.) Regional Medical Center.

“We ended up having to do more interviews (because of the couples match). We went on 14 interviews total,” Watson said. “We went down to Orlando and loved it. It’s a competitive program, and it was our first choice. We’re so excited.”

Watson and Locklear were one of 641 couples in the match this year, the highest number ever according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. A couple is defined by the NRMP as two applicants who participate in the match as partners.

Watson said, “This is the beginning of the end of medical school, but it’s the beginning of a lot of other things. We have to go and find somewhere to live in Orlando. We’ve never lived outside of the state before.

“We’re both North Carolina born and bred and we plan on coming back to North Carolina (to practice), so we decided to try some place new for residency,” Watson said as she accepted a hug from a classmate and invited him down to Orlando to visit.

Another ECU 2004 medical graduate heading to Orlando Regional Medical Center is Kimberly Buffkin, who matched to an emergency medicine residency. “I'm so excited,” she said. “I'm thrilled.”

Her husband, Patrick Hinson, was equally happy. He has landed a job at the National Deaf Academy in nearby Mount Dora, Fla., working with hearing-impaired and mentally ill ch


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481