Year of Firsts for Med Graduates

Drs. Charles Phillips and Lara  Hershcovitch married in May.
Drs. Charles Phillips and Lara Hershcovitch married in May.

Members of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Class of 2011 ushered in a new curriculum and worked to help improve it—all while being noted for their collegiality and for the unprecedented number of them who wound up as couples.

Of the class’ 100 students, 22 participated in a “couples match”—meaning that they and their significant others entered the computerized national residency matching program with their names linked to be placed in a hos-pital or city together, where they will spend the next three to seven years as doctors in training.

“They are a very friendly class, very easy to work with,” said Dr. Scott Rodgers, MD’94, associate dean for medical student affairs, during Match Day on March 17. “They have been through a lot together, including initiating our curriculum change four years ago, and clearly they remain very cohesive.”

Dr. Lara Hershcovitch, MD’11, says that by the time of her second year of medical school, it was obvious how many students had found love. “My fiancé, Charles [Phillips], and I started as good friends, but it’s one of the easiest relationships I have had because there is mutual understanding. We know never to ask the question, ‘Are you done with work yet?’” she says.

Dr. Charles Phillips, MD’11, began medical school just two weeks after surgery to remove testicular cancer. Throughout his first set of classes, he was half-patient, half-student, enduring radiation treatments. Fellow students and teachers showed him great support and caring, like the time Dr. Neil Osheroff, professor of biochemistry and medicine, met Phillips on a Sunday to give him a test he had missed because of nausea from radiation.

“And then on my last day of radiation, even though everyone had a test the next day, [classmate] Alon Peltz spearheaded a party for me. Dean Rodgers funded it, and over a hundred people showed up—basically the whole class. It was the nicest thing anyone ever did for me,” Phillips says.

Phillips and Hershcovitch married May 21 and are set to begin residencies at Vanderbilt.

The medical school’s Class of 2011 is also notable for producing the school’s first fifth-generation legacy graduate, Dr. Billy McSwain. He crossed the stage May 13 to receive his diploma from his father, Dr. George Randle McSwain II, BA’70, MD’74. Billy McSwain’s grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather—a “horse and buggy” doctor in Paris, Tenn.—all graduated from VUSM. Dr. Barton McSwain, MD’30, a renowned pathology professor at Vanderbilt, was his great-uncle.

“I grew up thinking I would never go into medicine, but once I decided on this path, I was simply looking for a great school where I could study medicine and my wife could go to divinity school,” says McSwain. He says that he and his wife, Mary Beth McSwain, MDiv’10, now joke that one day their children will feel the pull of the legacy, too.

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