Anticipation fills the room for ETSU med students on Match Day

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 17, 2018 at 12:45 AM

Lizzie Monroe and Brent Sterling eagerly waited to see where they would start their residencies Friday. The couple hoped to stay together somewhere in Nashville or Chicago to continue their medical training.

At Friday’s East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine Match Day event at the Millennium Centre, the two students crossed their fingers before they received the results of the National Resident Matching Program.

“We really liked Nashville and Chicago a lot. At first, we ranked places all over,” Monroe, who will continue her training in family medicine, said.

“Those places have a lot of programs, so we hoped we could go to the same place or another close by,” Sterling, a pathology student, added.

James Abernathy, a veteran who was once deployed in Mosul, Iraq, was hoping to stay close to home to continue his residency for general surgery at East Tennessee State University. He was formerly a flight medic and paramedic in the U.S. Army.

“I oversaw a squadron station there. We saw some trauma and some general medical issues,” he said. “I think general surgery ties in well with my experience because I like using my hands and my mind for medicine.”

Abernathy is hoping to continue his medical career in the military, where he said he hopes to work close to the front line to evacuate and stabilize wounded soldiers. As long as he’s able to get closer to that goal, he said he’d be happy with a residency program anywhere.

“I’d like to remain here in Tennessee, but I’d feel really blessed to be attached to wherever I go,” Abernathy said. “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

Once the students were able to open their letters, Monroe and Sterling got what they hoped for. They would continue their medical training close to each other.

Sterling was matched with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville to get licensed as a pathologist. Monroe was matched with University of Tennessee St. Thomas Hospital in Murfreesboro to continue her training in family medicine.

The couple had a sixth sense that things would work out, according to Monroe.

“We tried to rank places in the same vicinity, so we knew we’d be together,” she laughed.

Abernathy was happy to find that he’d join the 10 percent of students who’d begin their residency training at East Tennessee State University.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It was my first choice.”

Twenty-one students stayed in-state to continue their training, while an additional 16 students were matched at institutions throughout the Appalachian region.

Though some students weren’t matched with their preferred institutions, like Abernathy, Monroe and Sterling were, most students were relieved to find out what the next chapter of their medical training had in store for them, according to Dr. Robert Means, dean of the college. 

“All of these students have interviewed at different places and have submitted a ranked list, then the places where they applied ranked them and a computer sorts all of this out before they are assigned to programs,” he said. “They all have their eyes set on some places.

“Everyone is mostly excited because — when they open that envelope — they know what they’re doing for the next stage of their medical education.”

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