Please share with us where you attended medical school and tell us about why it made the top of your list.
I attended East Carolina University (ECU) for both undergraduate and medical school. During high school, I applied all over the place and was fortunate to have options, but receiving a full-ride scholarship to ECU made the choice pretty easy. Majoring in Biology and minoring in Business, I enjoyed my time there. Similarly, after applying to medical school, I received a full ride to remain at ECU and attend the Brody School of Medicine. It was important to find a school that was close-knit, down-to-earth, and provided great training. Brody fit that bill AND afforded me the opportunity most doctors don’t have – graduating debt-free.
Please share with us where you completed residency and how/why you ended up choosing that location.
I stayed put in Greenville, NC and completed my residency at Vidant Medical Center / ECU Health because by this time, I had roots in the area. My wife was a professor at ECU and my kids were in school. Luckily, I didn’t have to sacrifice in the way of education because the Emergency Medicine program there is amazing. I had the opportunity to train in a 1,000-bed level 1 trauma center, with high volumes and high acuity. It certainly made me a better doctor.
Tell us more about why you chose the field of medicine? What about becoming a physician was attractive?
Trying to avoid cliches but having some trouble – I’ve always enjoyed the sciences and learning about the human body, critical thinking, getting to know and help people. I’m the first doctor in the family so I didn’t have anyone in particular to emulate but I knew from a young age I wanted to be a doctor. Although it’s a marathon to achieve, I knew the grind would be worth it, and I’m glad I stuck with it.
How did you choose Emergency Medicine as your specialty?
Emergency Medicine (EM) was the obvious choice for me. I like the jack-of-all-trades metaphor.
All aspects of all my rotations in medical school – internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, pediatrics, etc. were enjoyable so EM is the perfect mixture for me. I get direct patient care, perform lots of procedures, and take care of a variety of illnesses in both the young and old. I like knowing a little bit about everything.
What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day practice?
Although I alluded to it above, I enjoy the novelty of Emergency Medicine. No two patients are the same and no two days are the same. You never know what’s coming in next so it’s tough to get bored. Every patient is stimulating and there’s always something new to learn.
What led you to practice with MEMA? How long have you been with MEMA?
I learned about MEMA early in residency — it doesn’t take long for word to travel about such a top-notch organization. I knew I wanted to live in the Charlotte area because my wife and I are from here (I was born at Presbyterian Hospital). We met in high school, are blessed with 3 children, and raising them around family meant a lot to us. The COVID pandemic started right after I started residency training in 2019 and the landscape of medicine was changing rapidly. I reached out to MEMA early on because I knew I wanted to work there, and I knew they had very little turnover, making it that much more competitive. Democratic groups are few and far between, especially in such an amazing location. It took some patience and persistence but when the opportunity came, it was an easy decision. I started in July 2023 and am very fortunate to work with a diverse group of brilliant physicians who are always there when I need a hand or some advice.
Has there been one patient, staff member, or caregiver story that has stuck with you?
One cool thing about emergency medicine is you accumulate a lot of stories. Some funny, some devastating, some downright unbelievable. The one that always sticks with me occurred all the way back in high school. I was shadowing in the Emergency Department when a fairly young woman came in after a cardiac arrest. I had no involvement in the case at all, basically a fly on the wall, but seeing how the ED team functioned together and all the organized chaos that went into trying to get her back was incredible. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending. I witnessed the event from start to finish, including the family coming in, hearing the news, and sobbing. I got to see the human element which is important to never forget. Every patient has a story and people that care about them. Although a story like that may scare some people away, it really fortified my resolve and I wanted to do everything I could to help people in those situations. I wanted to save lives!
What are some of the biggest challenges of your practice, for a clinician practicing in the emergency department?
Although I love it, working in the Emergency Department certainly isn’t easy and can be a bit of a tight rope act! A lot of things are out of your control, and you must learn to deal. The volumes are usually high, the healthcare system is a bit of a mess, and there are a lot of sick people out there. It’s difficult to spend enough time with your patient to make them feel heard/understood/cared for, while simultaneously not spending too much time so that other people aren’t waiting hours to see you. And truthfully, seeing and caring for patients is the easy part. We like doing that! It’s the charting, writing notes, etc. that takes the most time and is less than enjoyable.
Are you a member of any associations, societies, or organizations?
I am a member of several organizations but the most pertinent are the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians (NCCEP), and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM).
Have you received any awards or been recognized by your peers? If so, tell us about it!
I have been fortunate to be a part of several scholarship and leadership programs during my medical journey, including the awards referenced above. I’ve been selected to speak at national conferences, most recently at the SAEM conference in New Orleans, LA and was voted in as chief resident during my final year of residency. One of the most unique awards and one I’m most proud of, was many years ago when I was selected as the “Air Force Youth of the Year”. It was neat to have a ceremony and make a speech in the Pentagon. My parents still serve in the military and I’m proud of their service.
Who/what did you want to be as a child?
I have a school project from the second grade that says I wanted to be an NBA player. I went on to write “but if that doesn’t work out, I want to be a doctor.” Unfortunately, the NBA never called so here I am living out my second-grade back-up plan.
What about Charlotte excites you?
Charlotte is a unique and exciting city experiencing a ton of growth. It’s great you aren’t far from the beach or far from the mountains. There are tons of cool restaurants, places to explore, and things to do with my kids. I enjoy sports so I frequent Panthers, Hornets, and Knights games. We get lots of fun festivals and concerts. And for me, I get to do all this around family and friends!
Do you have any hobbies, interests, or secret powers that are unique to you?
I enjoy sports and staying active, although I have been slacking on that recently. I like pick-up basketball at the rec, playing golf (albeit poorly), and church softball. I like to hunt, fish, hike, and kayak. Traveling is a big hobby and I like to explore new places. My wife and I have been to nearly all 50 states and several different countries. Traveling is a little more difficult now with a young family, but we make it a point to still do fun things.
As far as superpowers go, I do have this cool ability to heal people! It took a lot of years to hone this skill, and sometimes it doesn’t work as well as I’d like, but I’m working on it.