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Graduates celebrate a match made in medicine

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Jaleeka Rudd walks across the stage during Match Day at ECU on March 16, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Purple and gold balloons dropped from the ceiling. Students, parents and professors cheered and fought back happy tears. And eager medical school graduates opened white envelopes to find out where they will spend the next three years as resident physicians.

As Match Day took place at the Brody School of Medicine on Friday morning, members of East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine 2018 class celebrated surviving their four-year-long journey from students to doctors.

However, before they can independently provide direct patient care, U.S. medical school graduates must complete a three- to seven-year residency program accredited in a recognized medical specialty.

The National Resident Matching Program places applicants for postgraduate medical training positions into residency programs at teaching hospitals across the nation. Thousands of graduating medical students nationwide learned their destinations today.

“It's one of the most exciting days for sure, and all across the country, every medical school student gets their information about where they're going at the same time,” Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Elizabeth Baxley said. “We've been watching them for four years and watching their growth. Their decisions about what they want to do with their life. This is like parenting . It's like having your kid get really great news. They're going to do great things.

“The thing that's really important is that Brody was put here to produce the kind of graduates who would meet the needs of the population of N.C.,” Baxley said. “Every year, more than 50 percent of our graduates go into primary care specialties.”

A total of 44 Brody graduates — approximately 59 percent of the class — will enter primary care residencies. The breakdown of their fields includes 15 in family medicine, 13 in pediatrics, nine in internal medicine, five in internal medicine/pediatrics and two in obstetrics/gynecology.

Taylor Sandberg is one of those family medicine graduates. Originally from Charlotte, she was placed at Carrabus Family Medicine in Concord.

“It's a huge privilege to be placed in North Carolina,” Sandberg said. “North Carolina has invested so much in me and I've always pictured myself staying here and it's a dream come true.”

Sandberg has an even better reason to celebrate her placement in Charlotte.

“My husband and I have been doing long distance for four years and finally we get to be together again and start my practice and start serving patients,” she said. 

Sandberg's husband works in finance in Charlotte and has supported her through medical school, even though the couple lived four hours apart.

“It was pretty emotional thinking back to all the long nights in the anatomy lab and on rotations. We lived four hours apart for four years. Now, I'm moving in with him and I'm so happy.

“We got married in September and now, we're able to start our real life together and he gets to continue his job in finance and it's a wonderful blessing,” Sandberg said.

Elizabeth Ferruzzi, is another family medicine graduate. Originally from Lenoir, she said it's important that primary care doctors stay in their communities.

Ferruzzi, will complete her family medicine residency for Novant in Charlotte.

“It means everything to me to stay in North Carolina,” Ferruzzi said. “It's so important, especially in family medicine that we be advocates for bringing the primary care to the small towns in North Carolina.”

Brody also is known for producing minority surgeons and emergency medicine physicians.

Joshua Jackson, a Fayetteville native, will complete his general surgery residency at Howard University in Washington D.C.

“I liked the mission of Brody to increase the number of minority physicians to help the people of Eastern North Carolina and to help underserved populations,” Jackson said.

Jackson added that his training will allow him to succeed wherever he goes.

“Brody has definitely prepared me to be where I need to be. They've allowed me to be the person I need to be so that I can be the doctor I need to be,” Jackson said.

He said his faith and family kept him going.

“I'm just thankful to God for allowing me to be here and I am thankful to my family for supporting me through these four years,” Jackson said.

Ismail Kassin, originally from Nigeria, will head to the University of Texas in Houston to complete his emergency medicine residency.

“It feels awesome,” Kassin said. “I don't think I've ever been this happy in my life. All the hard work is worth it. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid.”

Graduate Aaron Wallace will complete her internal medicine residency in Pitt County at Vidant Medical Center

Wallace said it's been a long road for her to reach this point.

“I've always dreamed of going to medical school,” she said. “I'm from New Bern so this area has always had a need for doctors. I've always wanted to practice in the area and give back to the community. Communities have been great to me. It's a great thing to work here.”

Wallace added that she is a non-traditional student and that she hopes others will pursue their dreams, even if it takes a while.

“I come from a very non-traditional background and have worked my way through undergraduate. I'm a little older than your average student and my message is, if you want to go to medical school, don't let anything stand in your way. It's a dream I had for more than 16 years.”

The 2018 Main Residency Match was the largest in the National Resident Matching Program’s history, as 37,103 applicants nationwide submitted program choices for 33,167 positions.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com and 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter at TylerstocksGDR

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