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October 17, 2017 - Crossing Paths: High School Friends Reunite in Medical Field
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HogueWatkins-3[1].jpgLess than two miles away from their high school alma mater, Drs. Antwan Hogue and ShaRhonda Watkins have crossed paths again, working together on Green Medicine – an internal medicine multidisciplinary team at USA Medical Center. Dr. Hogue serves as the attending physician and Watkins is the pharmacist.

The two graduated from John L. Leflore High School in 2004, where Dr. Hogue was named valedictorian and Dr. Watkins was named salutatorian. In addition to graduating at the top of their class, former classmates also named Dr. Hogue ‘most likely to succeed’ and Dr. Watkins ‘most intelligent.’ While the two remained friends after graduation, they lost contact as they completed their college career.

Dr. Hogue earned both his undergraduate and medical degree from USA, while Dr. Watkins completed her undergraduate degree at Xavier University in New Orleans. Dr. Hogue then completed his residency training in internal medicine at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, S.C. — 680 miles away from Xavier University College of Pharmacy, where Dr. Watkins completed her doctor of pharmacy degree.  After completing his residency training, Dr. Hogue served as a hospitalist and internal medicine physician at West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., before joining USA last year.

On Dr. Hogue’s first day at USA, Dr. Errol Crook, professor and Abraham Mitchell Chair of Internal Medicine at the USA College of Medicine, took Dr. Hogue around USA Medical Center to get acquainted with faculty. “Dr. Crook told me that we had a pharmacist on the team and that we graduated from the same high school,” he said. “I immediately knew he was referring to the ShaRhonda Watkins I went to school with.”

Dr. Watkins was on vacation during Dr. Hogue’s first day and they met later in the week during rounds. “I walked into rounds and to my surprise I saw Dr. Hogue sitting at the table looking over charts,” Dr. Watkins recalled. “He looked up and realized who I was, and then he immediately stood up and gave me a big hug. We told the residents that we have known each other since we were 15 and had not seen each other since graduating from high school.”

Now, they have been working together on the same team for almost a year. “Our relationship is the same as it was in high school,” Dr. Watkins explained. “Working with Dr. Hogue definitely challenges me to do my best at all times.”

Each day, Drs. Watkins and Hogue — along with residents and medical students — conduct morning rounds at USA Medical Center.  “Rounding serves as a teaching opportunity,” Dr. Watkins said. “While we go through each patient’s information and discuss their medication with the group, Dr. Hogue may ask me for my input or I may make recommendations on different treatment options.”

Dr. Watkins said their dynamic reminds her of the many honors courses she and Dr. Hogue completed together during high school. “He is one of the smartest people I know,” she said. “Working with Dr. Hogue encourages me to read more medical studies so I can contribute to the group and anticipate any questions. It is almost as if I am in school again.”

According to Dr. Hogue, Dr. Watkins is also a valuable asset to the team. “If we need any updates or recommendations on what medications a patient could benefit from, she always knows the answer and keeps us informed,” he said. “Often times you don’t see people that you graduate with in a professional setting. To see your life come full circle is very rewarding.”

A native of Mobile, Dr. Hogue said he is both proud and grateful to be back, making an impact in his community. “I always knew I wanted to come back to Mobile,” he said. “It has been a blessing to come back and work with so many familiar faces. I love being in this neighborhood because it made me exactly who I am today. Knowing that I am the attending physician over the team that is caring for the people of this community is extremely fulfilling.”

Dr. Hogue credits his previous friendship with Dr. Watkins for helping him to adapt to his new position. “Having a familiar person that you know outside of work enabled me to acclimate to the team with ease,” he said. “I know she will always have my back, and I definitely have hers as well.”

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