From left to right: Shae Widick matched in ophthalmology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Ark.; Elizabeth Keeble matched in ophthalmology at UAB; and William Gannon matched in ophthalmology at UAB.
Russ Terry (left) matched in urology at the University of Florida, and Tyler Wood (right) matched in urology at The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.
The majority of medical students go through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to find out where they will be doing their residency training following graduation, but students who wish to match in ophthalmology and urology participate in a specialty match program that takes place months before Match Day on March 15.
According to Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean of medical education and student affairs, both ophthalmology and urology are extremely competitive residency programs.
“In 2012, there were 784 applicants for the ophthalmology match for only 461 spots. In urology, there were 481 applicants for only 278 spots,” Dr. LeDoux said. “We are extremely proud of the three students who matched in ophthalmology and the two students who matched in urology. Their success speaks to the quality of students who choose to come to our medical school and to the quality of their training once they are here.”
Elizabeth Keeble, who matched into UAB’s ophthalmology program, said the university was her first choice.
“UAB has the only ophthalmology program in the state of Alabama, which afforded me the ability to be close to my family,” said Keeble, a native of Lanett, Ala. “I also rotated at UAB last year and really fell in love with their program, the residents and the faculty.”
Before entering medical school, Keeble worked as an ophthalmic technician in a retina practice for four years – her first exposure to the field of ophthalmology.
“I wanted to keep an open mind as to what type of physician I would become as I entered the clinical years of medical school,” she said. “After third-year rotations, I still hadn't found a specialty I liked more than ophthalmology.”
Keeble, who will graduate in May, will be the first physician in her family.
William Gannon, who also matched at UAB in ophthalmology, said he knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a doctor. “When I was little I used to go to work with my dad, an ENT in Dothan,” he said. “I even had a nametag that read ‘William Gannon, Special Assistant.’”
Gannon’s dad was a mentor for him throughout medical school, encouraging him every step of the way. “He’s very excited with what I’m doing,” he said.
When Gannon found out he matched, he said he was shocked and then relieved that the search was over. “Right now I’m in the excitement phase,” he added. “I’m glad my dreams of being an ophthalmologist are coming to fruition.”
Shae Widick, a native of Oxford, Ala., matched in ophthalmology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Ark. “I was ecstatic when I found out I matched,” she said. “UAMS was at the top of my list due to the people, facilities, and location.”
Widick said her medical education at USA will help guide her through her residency. “I had lots of hands on experience and worked with great people at USA,” she said. “I am grateful I attended medical school here because it gave me confidence by allowing me to be on the front lines of patient care and initial therapy.”
Widick said she chose ophthalmology partly because she understands that losing your vision is very incapacitating and frustrating. “The ability to change that for someone will be incredibly rewarding,” she said.
Keeble, Gannon, and Widick will start their ophthalmology residencies in July 2014.
Also this year, two USA College of Medicine students matched in urology – Russ Terry and Michael Tyler Wood.
Terry, a native of Mobile, matched in urology at the University of Florida.
“The University of Florida was my first choice because it is a great university-associated hospital system with a strong academic focus,” Terry said. “They have a great surgical case volume, devoted faculty and departmental leadership, as well as friendly residents.”
Terry said he’s always had a passion for science, and his research and extracurricular experiences as an undergraduate steered him to urology.
“I was especially drawn to the extensive integration of technology into the daily activities of urologists,” he said. “Urology provides the unique opportunity for lifelong follow-up with your patients.”
Terry said his knowledge and skills from his time at USA will serve him well as a surgical intern and urology resident.
“Medical students here are so fortunate to have a high-quality basic science experience as well as a practical experience in the patient-care arena,” he said. “In the hospitals we are given opportunities to shoulder responsibilities and perform on a functional level in ways that I don't think occur at many other schools. The end result is that our graduates begin their internships with an unshakable knowledge foundation and a plethora of practical experience which allows them to really hit the ground running.”
The second urology residency match this year was Tyler Wood. Wood matched at The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., where he became familiar with the program during rotations in 2012.
Wood said he was thrilled and relieved when he found out he matched and said he had great support from the USA faculty, as well as his classmate Terry who he collaborated with on the process.
“Russ and I took a team approach and really made a point to help each other throughout the process,” Wood said. “I know we both feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of one of the most rewarding fields in medicine.”
Wood said that the biological sciences have always been fascinating to him, and the opportunity to impact others' lives in a positive way inspired him to pursue medicine.
“The hard work of removing a kidney stone or tumor often results in immediate improvement in both the patient’s condition and quality of life, which I have seen both from the perspective of the health care provider and from the perspective of the son of a cancer survivor,” he said.
Both Terry and Wood will begin their urology residencies on July 1, 2013.
The remainder of the USA College of Medicine Class of 2013 will found out where they matched on Match Day, March 15, 2013. The event will take place at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in downtown Mobile.