LEBANON - As the clock ticked closer to 9 a.m. on Friday, the tension was evident at the Boulder Falls Event Center.
The 104 students in the class of 2019 at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest (COMP-NW) were waiting to open envelopes that would determine their immediate futures. Inside those envelopes were cards listing each future doctor’s residency assignment.
The good news was that everyone present had a match, which is not something that can be guaranteed. Dr. Elisabeth Guenther, the director of career development for the College of Osteopathic Medicine, acknowledged that it can be extremely difficult when a student graduates from medical school but does not receive a residency assignment.
“I’m thrilled to announce that … as of today, every single one of the class of 2019 has a residency spot waiting for them,” Guenther said. “That is a huge deal.”
Kierra Hayes and Abbie Fulton were among those anxiously awaiting their assignments. Hayes hoped to serve her residency in Indianapolis, Indiana. Fulton’s first choice was to be assigned to Portland.
When the time came to open their envelopes, both discovered they had gotten their wish. Hayes was assigned to serve her residency with the Community Health Network in Indianapolis and Fulton with Legacy Health Services in Portland.
For a few of the students, the residency matching process had already been completed and Friday’s events were a formality. That was the situation for Morgan Wimmer, a 2010 graduate of Lebanon High School.
Wimmer had completed part of her training with Samaritan Health Services and knew she had been accepted to serve a family practice residency in Corvallis.
The granddaughter of longtime Lebanon physician Dr. Robert Wimmer, Morgan Wimmer had traveled across the country to attend the university. She graduated from the State University of New York at Potsdam with a degree in biology.
Her family was thrilled when Wimmer decided to return to Lebanon to attend medical school. As graduation approaches, she is certain she made the right choice.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” she said. “Just to see how much the school impacted the community here and really boosted the economy and they’re doing all sorts of community outreach. It was nice to be a part of a school that is reaching out into the local community and that’s my local community.”
Laurie Reed, a 2007 graduate of Lebanon High School, was also pleased with her assignment. She will serve her residency at Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Reed is specializing in emergency medicine and thought this location was best for both her training and her family. She and husband Derek have two daughters, Nora, 7, and Leah, 3.
“It’s best as far as schedule as a mother for me. It’s a four-year emergency medicine program so the shifts are structured well,” Reed said. “I did a shadow shift there and really liked the camaraderie of the residents.”
The location in southwest Michigan also met with approval from Derek Reed.
“It has the kind of fishing my husband likes and that was his only request when it came to where we went,” she said.
As a student at Lebanon High School, Reed knew she was interested in a career which had a connection to science. It was on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, when she was 19 that Reed realized she wanted to become a doctor.
“I went with my older sister as a travel companion. We saw clinics with long lines of people because in that particular location they only got a doctor every third day,” she said. “That was very moving and I was realizing how entitled I’d been.”