Jennica Siddle’s passion for emergency medicine was born out of a love for challenges and excitement. It was nurtured through study and research. It will continue as an emergency medicine resident at the University of Indiana School of Medicine.
Siddle said during a study abroad trip to Australia, she met a group of emergency physicians treating snake bite victims.
“I remember seeing them and thinking ‘I want their job,’” Siddle said.
That led her to the UNC School of Medicine, where, during her clinical clerkships, she became curious about how physicians fit into the larger system of health care.
“As a medical student, I would see a patient handoff and be curious about what was going to happen next for that patient,” Siddle said. “I wanted to understand what we as physicians could do to make sure the system worked better.”
So, she decided to pursue the Health Care and Prevention MPH program that’s offered as a partnership between the School of Medicine and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Studying health policy and population health led her back to the emergency department.
“In the ED, you’re the interface between the outside world and the hospital,” Siddle said. “In many cases, patients will move from you to another part of the hospital, and so it’s vital that you are comfortable with how everything works.”
She credits UNC with offering a wide range of experiences, both as an undergraduate and a medical student.
“This campus is full of beautiful old buildings, but there is so much innovation going on inside of them,” Siddle said. “As a student, I’ve benefitted from international travel, but I’ve also been able to serve the rural parts of our state, which I have loved.”
Siddle also knows her unique perspective as a military spouse will serve her well. Her husband is stationed at Fort Bragg.
“We’ve dealt with deployments and long training exercises that can pop up and derail whatever plans you might have had,” Siddle said. “You have to be flexible to survive. I think that will make me a better emergency physician.”
On Match Day, Thayne Dalrymple is excited for her parents to meet her UNC School of Medicine family. The Miami native said that when she arrived in Chapel Hill to participate in the MED program, she had no real ties to North Carolina. That soon changed.
“The MED program changed my whole world,” Dalrymple said. “I felt like everyone was genuinely interested in me and my success.”
That support system has helped her navigate through medical school, all the way to Match Day, where she learned she matched into the pediatrics residency program at New York University Langone Medical Center.
“This is everyone’s accomplishment to celebrate, not just mine,” Dalrymple said. “My friends here and my parents down in Miami have all been on this ride with me.”
Dalrymple said she’s most excited to share the day with her mother, who helped spark her interest in medicine.
“My mom is a nurse, and as a child I was always interested in what she was doing,” Dalrymple said.
Dalrymple’s medical school experience has been defined by a dedication to community service. She served as a leader in the UNC chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). In her third year, Dalrymple served as SNMA co-president, helping lead the group to honors as both regional and national chapter of the year.
She also helped lead the group’s science enrichment program, which places UNC SOM students at the head of the classroom, teaching elementary school students about science over the course of seven Saturdays.
“One of the goals of SNMA is to increase diversity in medical education, and so I think it’s important to reach back to younger students, expose them to the possibilities of science and medicine, and help model the path they need to take,” Dalrymple said.
Her experiences working with those young students served as an initial bit of inspiration to pursue pediatrics.
“Initially, I thought about pediatrics just based on the fact that I really enjoy working with children,” Dalrymple said. “But after completing pediatric rotations, I grew to love the variations you see based on age. What affects a four-year old, for example, will be completely different from what you see with a teenager who is going through puberty.”
Ryan Pickens has a unique appreciation for the value of surgical skill. Born a conjoined twin, Pickens said he owes everything to the two pediatric surgeons who successfully separated him and his brother. Now, Pickens is following that same path as he matches in surgery at Carolina's Medical Center in Charlotte.
“The opportunity to provide for someone else the opportunities that were provided to me and my brother is something that really motivates me,” Pickens said.
His brother is currently a resident at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Pickens traveled back to Chapel Hill for Match Day from Charlotte, where he is currently training at the UNC School of Medicine Charlotte Campus.
“Being in Charlotte has given me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a large hospital in a city,” Pickens said. “I’ve benefited from some incredible mentors here who really make a great investment in all of the students in the program.”
While he says his busy rotation schedule hasn’t allowed him much time for reflection, the relationships he’s forged in both Chapel Hill and Charlotte will stay with him as he moves on to his residency.
“I’ve learned so much here from both my classmates and great faculty mentors. I’m looking forward to the next step, and feel like I’ve been well prepared.”
Brendan Payne is a people person. But he knows being a successful family physician goes much deeper than a quick smile and friendly demeanor.
“Part of what excites me about family medicine is the challenge of building a strong enough relationship with your patients to affect positive change in their lives outside of your clinic,” Payne said.
His path to family medicine began during the Baltimore native’s first year as an undergraduate at UNC.
“During college you get exposed to so many different types of people, and I quickly realized how many great opportunities I had been blessed with,” Payne said. “I decided I wanted to make my profession a response to those blessings and work in service of others.”
His interest in medicine was cemented on a trip to the Dominican Republic where he worked as a facilitator for American medical teams setting up mobile clinics on the island.
“I saw doctors forming relationships with patients that spanned language and cultural barriers,” Payne said. “In most cases, that would take weeks or months of friendship and I saw it happening in just minutes.”
In medical school, he has had other service opportunities, both abroad and closer to home. He credits a stint at the Open Door Clinic in Burlington with helping him to get a preview for what life will be like as a family physician.
“In family medicine you have to really orchestrate and ensure access to the resources that patients need,” Payne said. “That is something that UNC has really done an awesome job preparing us for.”
He’ll continue his training in the family medicine residency program at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.
He said he sees the role of the family physician as both a clinician and a coach.
“One of the things I’ve realized during my time in medical school is that the doctor doesn’t always have all of the answers,” he said. “But your job is to be able to zoom out, assess the entire situation, and help make sure your patients get the answers.”
Christian Lawrence hopes that his journey through medical school can be a model for others.
As a member of the Student National Medical Association, he has helped to coordinate science enrichment courses for elementary school students in Durham.
“I want those students to see me as a regular guy who was once in the same place as them,” Lawrence said. “A career in medicine can seem so foreign, but I’m here to show them that it can be done.”
He’s also served as a teaching assistant in the MED program, helping recruit underrepresented minorities to medical school.
“An important lesson that I learned early on is that you can only go so far on your own,” Lawrence said. “And there’s always someone out there going through the same things as you. I try to do my best to help those people.”
That attitude will be an asset in his chosen specialty of family medicine. He matched into the pediatrics residency program at UNC Medical Center. Lawrence's Match Day was made much more memorable when he dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.
Throughout medical school, Lawrence said the opportunities to work with patients have been his best memories. He recalls a particularly formative experience during a clinical week rotation spent in his hometown of Statesville.
“I was so lucky to work with a doctor who had been a fixture of the community for decades,” Lawrence said. “I learned so much just watching him work with patients and advocate for them.”
He said that physician only reinforced the lessons he was learning in the classroom.
“I don’t think there has been a day during my time here where I haven’t heard about the importance of building a connection with your patients and caring for the whole person, beyond whatever condition they happen to be suffering from,” Lawrence said.
On March 18, the UNC School of Medicine held its annual Match Day celebration. Medical students, faculty, family and friends packed the auditorium of the Medical Biomolecular Research Building for the festivities. Read some facts about the UNC School of Medicine Class of 2016.