Match Day Milestones


Tala Smith smiles as she celebrates with a friend after getting her Match Day letter at the Brody School of Medicine March 16. At the annual Match Day ceremony, soon-to-be graduates learn where they'll spend the next years in residency training. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

Medical graduates choose primary care

By Marion Blackburn
for ECU News Services

This year’s Match Day at the Brody School of Medicine sends more than 68 percent of medical students into primary care, many of them in Greenville.

Medicine brought Vontrelle Roundtree to Greenville from the North Carolina mountains. Now that it’s keeping her here, she couldn’t be happier.

Just weeks before graduating from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, she learned March 16 that she will stay at the medical center for her residency in family medicine.

“Today feels like a miracle,” she said after opening the envelope that held her assignment. “It’s beliefs coming true.”

Roundtree was among 72 students taking part in Match Day 2012 to learn where their medical training will take them next. It was nerve-wracking and delightful, but certainly a milestone. For the medical school, the event serves as a yearly benchmark, too. Brody traditionally sends more residents into primary care than into any other field. It’s a proud moment for the school whose mission is to educate more doctors in primary care – specifically family medicine.

ECU continued its excellent track record, sending 68.9 percent into the primary care practice areas of family medicine; internal medicine; internal medicine-pediatrics; pediatrics; and obstetrics and gynecology. Excluding obstetrics and gynecology, the percentage remained high at 63.3 percent. Brody is sending 16 students into family medicine, three more than last year, along with 15 into internal medicine, four into the combined internal medicine-pediatrics field, 10 into pediatrics and four into OB/GYN.

For Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school, the day brought more reasons to feel good about ECU’s accomplishments.

“ECU continues to champion its primary care mission and heritage,” Cunningham said. “To be a relatively small state school by the banks of the Tar River and to rank with the behemoth medical schools with their long-standing legacies is remarkable. Our formula for success has led to something quite unusual.”

ECU’s Match Day started at noon and was one of many ceremonies around the nation. Before its conclusion, all students who desired to match with a teaching hospital had received the news of their acceptance into programs in 17 states. Of them, 29 are staying in North Carolina.

About 400 students, family members, faculty and visitors filled the Brody Auditorium. Students hugged Drs. Roytesa Savage and Randall Renegar, assistant deans for student affairs, before receiving their envelope from Cunningham.

Residency programs pick students through a combination of rankings, interviews, qualifications and needs. Students interview with teaching hospitals around the country during their last year of medical school. By February, they rank preferences. Then, the waiting begins as teaching hospitals make their choices.

This year’s match was the largest in the history of National the Residency Matching Program, with more than 38,000 applicants vying for 26,772 positions. It used the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program for the first time, an online system replacing what was formerly known as “the Scramble” to complete their pairings.


Andres and Hayley Afanador matched in internal medicine/pediatrics at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida. (Photo by Dawn Robinson)

Newlyweds Andres and Hayley Afanador participated in the couples match, assuring their move to the same teaching hospital. They’re heading to Miami in the combined specialty of medicine and pediatrics.

“It’s been the greatest six months of my life,” Andres Afanador said as he reflected then looked ahead to his future at Jackson Memorial, which, he said, was a top choice for them.

Vidant Medical Center and the ECU medical school received 10 matches, meaning these students will work with attending physicians at the hospital, at a medical office or other practice location here.

Among those staying in Greenville were best friends Amy Shipley and Stacey Miller, who also chose family medicine. “ECU has been my No. 1 choice for a while,” Shipley said as she watched her friend open her envelope. “I’m excited to spend the next three years with my best buddy.”

For Roundtree, the day brought not only the assignment she wanted, but an unexpected windfall. Because her name was called last, she received the sum collected from her classmates — $308.66 – a tradition that recognizes the additional stress of waiting until the end to learn your fate.

As she brushed aside her glad tears, she said, “I can buy fruit punch for everyone.”

A complete look at Match Day 2012 results at ECU is online at


ECU medical student Lindsey Waugh runs to get her match envelope during Match Day at the Brody School of Medicine. She's headed to Maine Medical Center for an OB/GYN residency. (Photo by Elbert Kennard)

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