For the Class of 2020, graduation is taking on a much different meaning this year. After four years of late-night study sessions, long hours poring over medical case histories, and learning the intricacies of the human body, students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia are ready to take that next step and head to their residency programs.
One graduate, Charmaine Jenkins matched into a residency with a premier program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP, where she will train in child neurology. CHOP is currently ranked as the number two Children’s Hospital by U. S. News & World Report.
Jenkins came to the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia in 2016, after completing her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Clemson University. What she didn’t realize is how much everything she thought she knew about being a medical student would change during the next four years.
Jenkins knew she had an ability to connect with people. Growing up in a military family, she spent several years living in Germany, learning local customs and meeting a wide array of people.
“We didn’t live in base housing, and I attended a German school,” she recalls. “I think because of my experience living there, meeting diverse people, helped me learn to establish a rapport with people more easily."
Jenkins’ interest in pursuing a medical degree came from the time she spent volunteering at a free medical clinic in the upstate during her undergrad years.
“I had the chance to work alongside some phenomenal physicians who put in a full day at work, then came to the clinic to work with the underserved,” she says. “What resonated with me was that it gave me such a rewarding feeling and that is what pointed me toward medicine.”
Her interest in neurology was sparked by participation in a migraine clinic as part of a shadowing experience with Michelle Androulakis, M.D., clinical assistant professor and chief of neurology at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center.
“I learned how to run MRI sequences for patients in her migraine study,” Jenkins says, “and she taught me bedside experience in neuroanatomy. I found a genuine love for neurology through her passion for the field.”
Jenkins then discovered she enjoyed working with children after completing a rotation in pediatric neurology.
“I gravitated toward the pathology of the field and the ability to work with families and their children in developing long-lasting relationships.”
Jenkins will always have fond memories of her days at the School of Medicine. She credits the warm reception she received from both faculty and students as one of the deciding factors in choosing to attend the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia.
“Everyone seems genuinely interested in who you are as a person, and they will do anything to help you. That really struck me.”
That camaraderie carried over with her fellow classmates throughout their training. While they spent many hours together in study sessions, they also managed to find small bites of time to relax and take a break from studying.
“We would plan an evening for board game nights or sushi nights,” she recalls, “to celebrate a birthday or after a test, or just a random get-together.”
As she prepares for a new life and residency experience in Philadelphia, Jenkins knows that once again she will need to brace herself for more intense study and long hours. She also says that her interview at CHOP reminded her of her interview at UofSC.
“Everything about it felt right,” she says, “and I know it is the perfect field for me.”