Med students open letters to learn where they will complete residency

Published 12:20 am Saturday, March 21, 2015

Star Photos/Abby Morris-Frye Alissa Hinkle, of Elizabethton, celebrates as she learns she will spend her residency at her first choice of programs.

Star Photos/Abby Morris-Frye
Alissa Hinkle, of Elizabethton, celebrates as she learns she will spend her residency at her first choice of programs.

A group of future doctors took the first step in their post-graduation careers as they learned Friday where they will spend their residency.

The 68 members of the Class of 2015 from East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine participated in the National Residence Matching Program, which pairs graduating medical students with residency programs. As part of the program, students take part in Match Day, where graduating medical students across the country open their letters simultaneously to learn what program they were matched with.

“This is a big day,” Dr. Robert T. Means Jr., dean of the College of Medicine, told the students and their families who assembled at the Millennium Center in Johnson City for the event. “This is going to be a day you will always remember. It is the single most powerful determinate as to where you will spend your career.”

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The day meant so much to him, Means still has his match letter from more than 30 years ago, he said.

In his speech to the group, class president Tamer Akoury reminded the soon-to-be-doctors to keep their eye on the bigger picture because while the residency is important, it is only the beginning.

“Don’t forget, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” Akoury said. “Don’t get caught up in the fact you may not be going where you wanted to go. You are going where you need to be.”

Students are asked to select their top three choices of programs and all hope to get their first choice.

The class shared a meal with their families and fellow students as they awaited the countdown to Noon, when the envelopes would be handed out and opened.

When the fateful moment came, the sounds of envelopes tearing could be heard, followed by cheers and yells of excitement.

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Alissa Hinkle of Elizabethton was one of the ones cheering. After opening her envelope, she let out a happy cry and turned her letter around for her husband, J.T., and other members of her family to see.

“I’m so excited,” she said as she told her family she would be going to residency at Bristol Regional Medical Center.

At the hospital, Hinkle will serve her residency with the family medicine program.

“It was absolutely the best fit,” Hinkle said. “I get along so well with everyone from Bristol.”

Hinkle wants to specialize in family medicine and hopes to remain in the Tri-Cities area when she begins practicing.

“J.T. and I feel like our community in Elizabethton has been so supportive of me through this whole journey,” Hinkle said. “I don’t know where I’ll end up but it will definitely be local.”

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Lindsey McAmis Gouge of Elizabethton was matched with a residency program for pediatrics in Greenville, S.C..

On Friday Gouge was celebrating with her husband, Andrew, after learning her residency placement at her first choice program.

“We just loved it,” Gouge said of her first choice. “It’s a great program and we loved the people there.”

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Elizabethton resident Will Hodgson was also matched with his first choice program, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

When he saw he was matched with his first choice, Hodgson said he was excited. “I’m really happy to be in Charlottesville,” he said. “It was a relief.”

Hodgson will be working with a program for physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I worked as a rehab tech for a while and enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s been pretty fulfilling to do that.”