Diverse medical school graduating class gets matched
The professional fates of more than 120 Wake Forest University Medical School seniors were decided last week during a whirlwind ceremony at the school’s Bridger Field House.
A rite of passage for American medical students, Match Day is the highly anticipated moment where graduating students across the nation receive their residency assignments. Students visit a variety of medical centers, then submit their top residency choices, and the medical center officials list their top choices among the residents they interviewed. The National Resident Matching Program then uses computer technology to match each student to the place he or she will spend the next three to seven years of their career.
“This is one of those incredible moments in the life of a medical student because it’s a juncture,” said Steve Block, senior associate dean of academic affairs at the medical school. “It’s where you’re going to spend the next segment of your time.”
The feeling of anticipation was palpable last Friday afternoon, as the students anxiously waited for a ceremonial ribbon to be cut at the stroke of noon, allowing them to storm the tables before them in search of that all-important envelope that contained the trajectory of their futures.
Squeals of excitement could be heard almost immediately, and tears flowed freely as the overwhelmed students shared the news with family, friends and each other.
Whitney Fetus is headed to Colombia University, where she will specialize in radiology.
“It’s surreal,” confessed the Dallas native. “I’ve been thinking about this day for four years now; I can’t believe it’s really my turn.”
Whitney’s parents, Gerald and Janice Fetus, were equally excited about their daughter’s achievement.
“It’s wonderful – outstanding,” Gerald Fetus said. “She truly has worked hard.”
The 27 year-old is the second in her family of four girls to pursue a career in medicine. Her older sister Geré Fetus-Lane, who also attended Wake Medical School, now practices in Mesquite, Texas.
“She’s very excited and happy,” her mother said. “She was very much inspired by her sister who became a doctor.”
Spotsylvania County, Virginia native Cameron Webb is headed for Cornell. The 29 year-old father of one adds a medical degree to the law degree he obtained three years ago. His wife, Dr. Leigh-Ann Webb, is also a physician.
“I’m very, very happy,” Webb said of his appointment. “We spent three years in Chicago and that was a great adventure going to a big city and now we get to do it even bigger in New York. It’s a very, very exciting change.”
Though many in the room were beside themselves, Webb said he felt an air of calm surround him as he approached the table to find his name with his 18 month old daughter, Avery, in his arms.
“I was carrying Avery and she always keeps me grounded and centered,” he said. “I think I was just ready to start planning on the next chapter.”
This year’s class was split exactly down the middle, with 62 women and 62 men graduating. Seventeen percent of those hailed from underrepresented groups in the field, Block said. Although each class is unique, the sentiments surrounding Match Day are unchanging, he added.
“Every year it’s the same. Every year I feel the same level of anticipation and anxiety and the same sense of elation afterwards,” he related. “…The (students) that I do know well, the unbridled joy that they share with me is very much a part of why I do what I do. My passion is educating these students, making sure they have the careers they want in the future.”
Carmen Robinson (pictured with her parents in feature image), the younger of two children, said she was “over the moon” to have been selected by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Tex.
“I am so excited. I’m so thankful. This has been an incredible journey for me,” she declared. “I grew up in Houston so it’s really going home – all of my church family is there. It’s far from my parents, but it’ll be an excuse for them to come down and see me.”
Carmen’s parents, Beverly and Ted Robinson of Winston-Salem, could barely contain their emotion after their daughter received her assignment to the top tier medical school.
“I’m very emotional, very grateful, very proud,” Ted Robinson said. “It’s what we’ve worked for, hoped for, prayed for and parented for.”
“I cannot even stand up on my own legs. They are shaking,” his wife confessed. “I’m so excited, so very, very grateful. I feel like God heard our prayers and answered them.”
Beverly Robinson, a banking consultant at Abbot Downing, said the suspense leading up to the ceremony was almost too much for her to bear.
“They really keep you on pins and needles, right to the edge of your seat, anticipating, wanting to start the countdown on your own,” she said. “All of these kids worked so hard to get this. They’re so deserving. This is the highlight of our life.”
Robinson, Webb and Fetus helped to make their class one of the most racially diverse in recent memory. The class includes 15 Asian, 18 blacks and four Hispanics.
The celebration will continue for the medical students with a hooding ceremony on May 19 and Commencement the following day.