Friday, March 21, 2014

USA Senior Medical Students Celebrate Residencies at Match Day 2014

Jamie Hennigan and Tiara Murphy try to look into their match envelopes prior to opening them during the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Match Day celebration Friday, March 21, 2014, at the Riverview Plaza hotel in downtown Mobile, Ala.
On March 21, 2014, after much anticipation, senior medical students at the University of South Alabama gathered at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile to find out this year’s Match Day results.

The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), or Match Day, is the annual event in which future doctors across the United States and Canada simultaneously learn where they will be doing their residency training.

“Match Day is an important day for each graduating medical student,” said Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean of medical education and student affairs. “This year, as in the past, we are extremely proud of our students’ successes in securing excellent residency positions. Their success reflects years of hard work on their part and also speaks to the quality of the educational training provided to them here in the USA College of Medicine.”

The Match works like this: after interviewing with several different residency programs - both near and far - students provide a ranking of their top-choice programs in order of preference. The training programs, in turn, rank the students who interviewed. The NRMP matches applicants’ preferences for residency positions with program directors’ preferences for applicants. Each year, thousands of medical school seniors compete for approximately 24,000 residency positions across the United States.

USA medical student Davida Yarbrough matches in family medicine at USA.

A native of Huntsville, Ala., USA senior medical student Davida Yarbrough credits her mother for her interest in science. “My mom encouraged me to explore all aspects of science,” she said. “Growing up in ‘Rocket City,’ I originally wanted to be an astronaut. However, she had me read Think Big by Ben Carson when I was 10 years old and that truly encouraged me to pursue a career as a physician.”

Throughout her medical school career, Yarbrough attributes her motivation to her faith and family. “I thank them for helping me stay focused,” she said.

Yarbrough said USA has provided her a solid foundation in clinical knowledge. “In addition, my experiences with very compassionate doctors who have been exemplary models of great patient care will carry over into my practice.”

Yarbrough matched in family medicine at USA. “I’m excited to train here with really great people,” she said. “I'm looking forward to being able to teach and impact students the way I was impacted by several residents during my training.”

Ben Cason, another fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, is a first-generation physician.

Originally from Montgomery, Ala., Cason completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn University where he received a bachelor’s degree in building construction. He went on to complete his pre-med curriculum at Auburn University at Montgomery before starting medical school at USA.

Cason’s interest in medicine has a unique origin. “My interest began with my experiences at the fire department,” he said. As a volunteer firefighter, Cason was able to respond to a variety of medical emergencies and traumas while at Auburn.

He later rose to the rank of captain, which enabled him to be responsible for managing multiple tasks taking place on the same scene. Cash said these experiences prepared him for the leadership responsibilities in medical school, as well as the responsibilities that will be expected of him as a physician.

To traverse the challenges he faced throughout medical school, Cason leaned to his Christian faith and his belief that medicine was his calling. “I have seen His hand in every step I've taken to get here.”

Cason matched in general surgery at USA. “USA is where I wanted to stay from the beginning,” he said. “It is a privilege to stay at this great, established program. I look forward to working with the attending physicians and continuing to learn from those I’ve already built relationships with.”

“I believe that the training provided here is second to none,” Cason added. “The camaraderie among the residents is stronger than any other program at which I interviewed and the faculty takes genuine interest in the well-being of the residents.”

A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., senior medical student Ellen Mitchell matched in plastic surgery – one of the most competitive residency specialties – at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. “I could not be more excited,” she said. “It’s an honor to be the second student in USA’s history to match in plastic surgery. Mitchell was one of 120 seniors in the country that matched in plastic surgery.
USA senior medical student Ellen Mitchell matches in plastic surgery at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

The NRMP also allows couples to form pairs of choices on their primary rank order lists. The couple will match to the most preferred pair of programs on the rank order lists where each partner has been offered a position.

USA medical students Mary and James Towner met in their first days of medical school. “We met, of all places, in gross anatomy during the first semester as freshmen,” James said. The couple cultivated a strong friendship as study partners. “He finally asked me out on a date the last day of our first semester,” Mary said. The couple got engaged during their third year of medical school and recently married in January 2014.

“During the first two years of medical school, it was sometimes hard. As a new medical student, we did not see patients, so it was important to remind myself why I was spending so much time studying,” Mary said. “My husband, James, was my greatest supporter. He knew exactly what I was going through and would listen to me vent in the hard times and celebrate with me when things went well.”

Mary matched in obstetrics and gynecology and James matched in neurosurgery at the University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

Mary said having her partner in medical school with her has been a great experience. “He understands the ups and downs of medical school and was incredibly supportive of me,” Mary said, “so it made everything a little easier.”

Both Mary and James said they could not be happier with their time at USA. “The opportunities to take part in patient care as a medical student at USA are second to none,” James said. “Having patients that allow us to participate so fully in their evaluation and treatment is a unique gift.”

Click here to view more photos from the event. For the complete list of Match Day results, click here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

'A Miracle in More Ways than One'

When an aneurysm was found in Baby Luke's brain, he was immediately sent to the University of South Alabama Medical Center for a risky, life-saving surgery. There, neurology faculty members Dr. Anthony Martino and Dr. Steve Cordina treated Luke. The infant was recently discharged from a four-week recovery at USA Children's & Women's Hospital and is doing well.

To read the full story featured on, click here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

USA's SPF 90 Team to Provide Skin Cancer Screenings at Azalea Trail Run

The University of South Alabama’s SPF 90 Team will provide skin cancer screenings at this year’s Azalea Trail Run Health and Fitness Expo on March 22, 2014 at the Mobile Civic Center Arena in Mobile, Ala.

The SPF 90 Team - established in 2006 as an outreach and education program of the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute - highlights the importance of early detection of skin cancer. The acronym SPF 90 represents Skin Protection Force, with 90 representing the percentage of skin cancer that is curable with early detection.

Dr. Marcus Tan, assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a surgical oncologist at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, is a member of the SPF 90 Team. According to Dr. Tan, the incidence of melanoma in the United States is rising more rapidly than for virtually any other cancer. “In fact, one in every 55 individuals will develop melanoma.”

There are several risk factors to consider when diagnosing melanoma including family history of melanoma, prior melanoma, multiple pigmented skin lesions and some rare genetic syndromes. In addition, extensive or severe sun exposure -- especially bad sunburns -- may also contribute to the development of this cancer.

Melanoma is a deadly disease but for patients whose melanoma is diagnosed early, the cure rate is relatively high. According to Dr. Tan, the affected patients trend a 5-year survival greater than 90%. “However, if the melanoma has spread to lymph nodes, the survival rate is roughly halved,” he said. “When the cancer has spread to distant organs, then survival is less than 10%.”

Dr. Tan stresses that regular skin exams are an important part of everyone's health check-ups.

For a successful self-exam, it is crucial to know what to look for. Lesions suspicious for melanoma usually have a combination of the "ABCDEs of Melanoma":
●      A - Asymmetry
●      B - irregular Borders
●      C - variable Color (pigmentation)
●      D- Diameter greater than 1/4 inch
●      E - Expanding (growing) skin lesion

Free parking will be available at the Civic Center parking lot. To view a map of the Civic Center, click here.

For more information on the Azalea Trail Run Health and Fitness Expo, click here.

USA Health and Dental Plan members who are unable to attend the Azalea Trail Run will have the opportunity for a free skin screening on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the new clinic at the University Commons. To schedule an appointment, call 660-5787.

Monday, March 17, 2014

USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital To Host Local Goodness April 6

University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital will host Local Goodness, a unique farm-to-table experience sponsored by Hancock Bank on Sunday, April 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. in Geri Moulton Children’s Park on the hospital’s campus. At this casual party in the park, guests will dine on local meats, seafood and produce as they enjoy authentic bluegrass music performed by local band Fat Man Squeeze.

Local Goodness will help raise funds to redesign the Evaluation Center, the emergency department that sees over 35,000 patients annually, almost 90 percent of them children. Local Goodness will pay tribute to local cuisine, art and music while raising awareness and support for the hospital’s mission of providing the highest quality healthcare for the children and women in this region.

Tickets for this event are $150 and can be purchased by calling (251) 415-1636 or visiting For sponsorship opportunities, contact Beth Mattei at (251) 415-1636 or

To learn more about USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, please visit,, or on Twitter @USACWHospital.

Register Now: OB-GYN Annual Conference

The University of South Alabama Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology will be hosting its 23rd annual conference April 10-11, 2014, at the Daphne Civic Center at 2603 Highway 98 in Daphne, Ala.

This event will be of a particular interest to OB/GYN physicians, family medicine physicians, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, nurse midwives, ultrasonographers and other health care professionals associated with obstetrics and gynecology.

USA speakers include Dr. Susan Baker; Dr. Donna Bennett; Dr. Fabien Eyal; Dr. Suzy Figarola; Ruth Kennedy, CRNP; Dr. David Lewis; Dr. Charles McCathran; Amy McRae, BSN, MAJ, JD; Cynthia Messer, CNM, MSN; Jeff Morris, BSN, RN; Dr. Rodney Rocconi; Dr. Robert Stauffer; Becky S. Tate; and Dr. Stephen Varner.

Guest speakers include Dr. Brian Brocato, OB/GYN instructor at the University of Tennessee in Memphis; Dr. Gale Y. Blakley, national medical director for United Healthcare Group in New York; and Dr. Craig V. Towers, associate professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

CEU’s will be available for physicians, nurses and social workers. To register online, click here. A late registration fee of $35 will be applied after March 31, 2014.

To view the event brochure, click here.

For more information, call Cathy Black at (251) 415-1491 or Catherine P. Hanks at (251) 415-1571.