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ECU sends 63 percent into primary care residencies

Kim Runkle shows the money as her husband, Daniel, and daughter, Katelyn, follow. Daniel Runkle is headed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for an anesthesiology residency. Photo by Doug Boyd
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Mar. 15, 2007)   —   More than three out of five medical students graduating from East Carolina University this spring will go into primary care residencies.

Those are the results of the annual Match Day, celebrated amid whoops and hugs Thursday at the Brody School of Medicine.

Of the 58 students participating in the match, 11, or 19 percent, are entering family medicine residencies. Eighteen, or 31 percent, are entering some type of internal medicine residency. Two students are entering pediatrics, and six are entering obstetrics and gynecology.

"It just seemed to be the right field for us," said Claudine Warfel, who's entering a family medicine residency at Wake Forest University along with her fiancé, Mark Corbett. "We really like continuity of care and the variety."

Before they can provide direct patient care, U.S. medical school graduates are required to complete a three- to seven-year residency program accredited in a recognized medical specialty. Medical students at the nation's 125 medical schools learned their destinations Thursday.

Sommer Grippers' hands trembled as she opened her envelope and received her first choice in emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Her husband, Duane Gripper, is stationed close by with the U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Md. He joined her grandmother Rubye Jones and family friend Nettie Council, both of Fayetteville, at the ceremony.

"It's a glorious day," Jones said. "It's a blessing from the Lord and a dream come true."

"We've been there nurturing, caring, pushing, believing and praying, even when she was doubtful," Council said.

Gripper, smiling through tears, said Match Day was more important than graduation day.

"I couldn't sleep all week," she said.

The class of 2007 was accepted into 38 institutions in 21 states in 16 specialties. The Brody School of Medicine and Pitt County Memorial Hospital will be home to 11 class members. Twenty-five graduates will stay in North Carolina.

On average, states keep 47.6 percent of residents they train, according to the Association for American Medical Colleges.

That nearly half the class is staying in North Carolina "speaks highly to our students' commitment to the health and welfare of the citizens of our state," said Dr. Randall Renegar, assistant dean for student affairs at ECU.

The last class member to learn his destination was Daniel Runkle, who carried his 10-month-old daughter, Katelyn, down the aisle to pick up his envelope. He was rewarded for his wait with approximately $120 collected from class members. He will pursue an anesthesiology residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"My wife and I both went to undergrad there, and we still have a lot of friends there," Runkle said.

The National Residency Match Program, a private, not-for-profit organization, 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.

According to the NRMP, the number of available residency positions this year was the highest in match history. This year, 27,944 applicants vied for one of the 21,845 first-year residency positions available; 15,206 of these applicants were U.S. medical school seniors. Other applicants included previous graduates of U.S. medical schools, U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen international medical graduates, and osteopathic doctors.

Of the 14,201 U.S. medical school seniors who matched to a residency position this year (93 percent of all seniors who applied), 84 percent matched to one of their top three choices, the NRMP said.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481