UNC medical students prepare for 2013 Match Day

Friday, March 15, is Match Day, which is one of the most highly anticipated days in the career of a physician. On Match Day, every student applying to a residency position in the National Resident Matching Program finds out where they will be spending the next three-plus years of their lives. This week, to celebrate our No. 1 ranking in Primary Care by U.S. News & World Report, we interviewed a few future primary care docs at UNC to hear why they chose to go into primary care.


Clodagh Mullen

4th year medical student
Candidate for Obstetrics & Gynecology Residency

Why do you want to go into Primary Care? We often think of primary care in terms of family medicine and internal medicine. How does Ob-Gyn fit into the primary care field?

Clodagh Mullen

In OB you could go into a specialty, for example, Gynecologic Oncology, or Reproductive Endocrinology, but you can also be a generalist. The way I see it, I have to have the attitude that I may be the only doctor they are going to see.

I think the commitment our hospital has to the North Carolina community and producing high quality doctors for every person's care is demonstrated by the numbers we send into primary care every year. A school that produces 15 orthopedic surgeons isn't going to make the same impact as 15 ob-gyns.

What experiences during med school led to that decision?

During my 3rd year clerkship, I decided to do Ob-Gyn (I was leaning towards internal medicine before the clerkship). Originally, I thought I would do a specialty within Ob-Gyn, but after spending time in inpatient and outpatient settings I realized that I definitely wanted to be a general OB. I want to see everyone who walks in the door.

Here at UNC, we spend six weeks with family medicine and a month in outpatient internal medicine. Other medical students I know from other institutions are impressed with how much time we spend in the general outpatient environment in the third year. Those experiences helped me make an informed decision.

How do you feel about graduating from #1 School of Medicine for Primary Care?

It’s always fun to be #1 in something, but it doesn’t surprise me at all. Through medical school, UNC has always been committed to North Carolina. If you look at activities of the medical students, they are very centered on patient care and on care for underserved communities across the state. I think it makes sense that we put a lot of emphasis on primary care and taking care of North Carolina. It’s nice to be recognized for it.


Adam Drechsler

4th year Medical Student
Candidate for Family Medicine Residency

Why do you want to go into Primary Care?

Adam Drechsler

I have been interested in primary care for a long time. I think all specialties serve an important purpose but primary care has a large void that remains to be filled. As a student, many of the patients I saw admitted to the hospital were suffering from an acute decline of a chronic medical problem. With proper access to primary care and attention to preventative medicine, the number of hospitalizations and subsequent morbidity can be mitigated. My desire is to serve patients in a way that optimizes their long term health status and this is why I chose to go into primary care.

What experiences during medical school led to your decision to go into Family Medicine?

UNC opened my eyes to the necessity of primary care. Starting in the first two years of medical school, students spend several weeks in primarily underserved communities being exposed to the role of primary care. UNC also encourages international travel. I spent time in India where I saw first-hand how the absence of primary care has led many individuals to suffer from otherwise treatable conditions. Moreover, my rotations with the family medicine department solidified by desire to pursue a career in this field. The faculty are committed to teaching, are very approachable, and they provided me with skill set necessary to become an effective and caring family physician.

How do you feel about graduating from #1 School of Medicine for Primary Care?

It is an honor to graduate from the #1 School of Medicine for primary care. I chose to attend UNC because of their commitment to primary care and because they champion the same values that I hold closest. Although they are a top ranked medical school, they continue to be leaders in medical education with an ongoing desire to improve the curriculum in any way possible. I am very fortunate to have attended medical school at UNC and feel well-prepared to begin my training as a resident physician.


Jenna Brooks

4th year medical student
Candidate for Pediatrics Residency

Why do you want to go into Pediatrics, a primary care field?

Jenna Brooks

I chose pediatrics because I love the relationships with patients and their families that develop, the trust that forms, and the bridge a pediatrician can provide between a test result or new diagnosis and what this means for a child’s health. Pediatricians have the honor of helping children grow and develop into their maximum potential, while also making sure that parents and guardians stay updated, supported and encouraged. This is a very special and delicate role, and one that I will feel honored to hold.

What experiences during med school led to the decision to go into Pediatrics?

One experience stands out, which occurred in the pediatrics outpatient clinic. At the time, I was considering a career in medicine, I had applied to schools, but I wasn’t sure it was the right decision for me.

Dr. Julie Byerley, one of the general pediatricians here at UNC, came into the physician workroom with a 5 year-old little girl. She said to those of us in the room, “We just wanted to stop by and tell you that we have overcome a horrible prognosis. We are experiencing a miracle.” The little girl had a chromosomal abnormality and doctors were unsure how she would progress developmentally. But, through the hard work of her parents and the guidance of a caring pediatrician, the child was able to do much more than what was predicted. You could see that Dr. Byerley was so proud of her patient and that she was a part of this patient’s family.

The whole family dynamic, in pediatrics and in primary care in general, is special. Pediatricians have the opportunity to follow children for years, watching them grow and develop. After this experience, I remember thinking that I wanted to know my patients the way primary care physicians know their patients. Seeing this encounter at UNC really made a difference for me, and I’m not sure you get that everywhere.

How do you feel about graduating from #1 School of Medicine for Primary Care?

It’s so exciting. I’ve known that UNC has ranked extremely high, as No. 2, for several years. The difference between No. 1 and No. 2 may be not be a big deal, but it’s exciting to me that we are so strong in both primary care and research. That was a huge reason I came here, because the school is well respected in research and subspecialties. I knew that I would see rare cases from across the state but I knew I would get a lot of exposure to primary care, too.


Katie Turek

4th year medical student
Candidate for Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency

Why do you want to go into Primary Care? We often think of primary care in terms of family medicine and internal medicine. How does Ob-Gyn fit into the primary care field?

Katie Turek

I chose Ob-Gyn because I am passionate about women’s health and providing primary care is a really important aspect of this specialty in terms of serving the people of the state and providing much needed medical care to women. At this time, I’d like to be a general obstetrician/gynecologist, which involves a great deal of primary care.

What experiences during medical school led to your decision?

During a trip to Mexico between my first and second years of medical school, I started thinking about Ob-Gyn as a field. This was a service and research trip sponsored by UNC where we were working primarily with children and women.

We spent a lot of time counseling on contraception, STIs, and women’s health in general. This was my first time talking with women about those issues, and I loved how we were able to use education and knowledge as a tool. I also spent time in a women’s hospital. That was the first experience that got me thinking about Ob-Gyn as a career, and I continued to focus on those issues through all four years of medical school.

How do you feel about graduating from #1 School of Medicine for Primary Care?

I’m extremely proud of the ranking. For me, rankings are not the most important thing, but I’m glad that it can be used to show others how wonderful our medical school is. Now that I’m at the end of my education here, when I look back, I can see how wonderful it was, and I am so happy to talk to people about it.

Our earlier ranking at No. 2 still showed strength, but No. 1 shows us how lucky we are as students to have experienced this education. I am proud and happy for others to see what a great medical school we have here at UNC.