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Feb. 11, 2015 - Three USA Medical Students Match Early in Military Programs
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parker01.jpgUniversity of South Alabama College of Medicine senior medical student Timothy Parker of Moundville, Ala. poses for a portrait with old photos of family members who served in the U.S. Military. Parker recently matched in an early match program in the military. Parker's father served as a Marine Corps infantry officer and his brother is an active duty Marine. His uncles and both grandfathers also served in the military.

University of South Alabama’s fourth-year medical students Timothy Parker, Anna Christensen and Brent Griffin recently matched in early match programs in the military.

The majority of medical students go through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to find out where they will be doing their residency training following graduation, but students who wish to match in the military participate in a specialty match program that takes place months before Match Day in late March.

Timothy Parker, from Moundville, Ala., will continue his family tradition of serving in the military. Parker’s father was a former Marine Corps infantry officer, his brother is an active duty Marine and all of his uncles and grandfathers served in the military. “As a child, we were taught to serve our country, so being able to fulfill that duty by serving men and women who have sacrificed their own freedom to protect the lives and freedoms of others is an honor for me,” said Parker. He matched at Navy Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., where he will complete a general surgery residency.

Parker will be the first physician in his family and is set to begin his residency in June. “I first became interested in medicine at age 14. I felt like medicine provided a venue through which I could serve the less fortunate and underserved populations,” Parker said. “I have always believed we are blessed in order to be a blessing, and becoming a Navy medical officer and physician is simply another way I can make an impact in the lives of others.”

Anna Christensen, from Streator, Ill., started her career as a nurse, earning her master’s degree in nursing at USA. For 12 years, she served as a nurse practitioner in the Navy before returning to school to pursue a medical degree. “I just felt like there was more I needed to learn,” Christensen said.

Christensen matched at Eglin Air Force base in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., where she will complete a family medicine residency. It was her first choice due to the proximity to her family and the excellent program it offered. “Being a family medicine physician has a very good career path in the military, with a lot of options in both focus and duty stations. I was very happy with my match,” she said. “USA has been an excellent school and I am so glad I went back to medical school. When you find the right nitch, it feels very good,” said Christensen, who will also be the first physician in her family. She will begin her residency in June.

Brent Griffin, from Boone, N.C., has served in the military for nearly 11 years. He enlisted in the Navy in 2004 and spent five years as a military police officer.  Griffin said he had been contemplating whether he should get out of the military once his time was up or if he should switch career paths. “I remember talking to a physician on duty and asking him the pros and cons of military medicine. He told me there was always something to learn in medicine and that really appealed to me. I then decided to go to medical school,” said Griffin.

Griffin matched at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Ga., where he will complete his residency in internal medicine. “I was very impressed by the quality of the program,” Griffin said. “The residents receive a lot of one-on-one instruction with the attending physicians, which was exactly what I was looking for.” Griffin will also be the first physician in his family and will begin his residency in June.

During Honors Convocation in May, Parker, Christensen and Griffin will take the military oath of office and receive their new military rank.

The remainder of the USA College of Medicine Class of 2015 will find out where they matched on Match Day, March 20, 2015. The event will take place at the Mobile Convention Center in downtown Mobile.

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