Class of 2022 Spotlight: Cole Sloboda

Cole Sloboda, one of CUSOM’s Spring 2022 graduates, will begin Neurological Surgery Residency with Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia in July.  After Match Day 2022, he shared what lead him to pursue “neuro surgery” and why he’s looking forward to training in a rural community.

Name:  Cole Sloboda, OMS-IV

Hometown:  upstate New York, but then we moved to Boone, NC for my sophomore through senior years of high school, so North Carolina is home

Prior degree(s):  BS, Appalachian State University

When did you figure out that you wanted to go to med school?

When I was a sophomore in undergrad, that is really when I decided to go for it – give it my best shot. My dad is a physician, so it’s always been sort of in my head that I would go to med school. I was considering ROTC; my dad is in the military, so I also thought about that route, too.  But, I realized medicine is really my passion.  I wanted to be a surgeon, and medical school is the only way to be a surgeon. So, I realized I needed to get going and start studying more. After a year of college, I just knew medicine is really what I wanted to do.

I didn’t get into medical school on my first try;  I took couple of gap years to do some research while my wife got her masters degree in accounting from ASU, and I worked at LabCore for almost a year.

Why Campbell?

I really was interested in Campbell because family is really important to me and both our families were in NC at the time.  I wanted to stay close to family.  As I started looking into more about Campbell, I liked the Christian aspect of the school and was really impressed by the facilities.  It had a great reputation from people we knew in Raleigh.

Campbell was actually the only medical school I got into and the only place I interviewed.   Campbell was the only place willing to give me a chance.

Now, I’m going into neurological surgery – most people just say “neurosurgery”.  It’s super exciting, and I thank the Lord Campbell was willing to give me a chance.

What brought you to neurological surgery?

I was always interested in physiology of the nervous system, things like neurons; even in undergrad and high school, I was fascinated with it.

There’s a lot of different hats a neurosurgeon wears – critical care, outpatient in the clinics, surgery in the hospitals. There are a lot of different avenues you can participate in, and I really like the scenery changes.  And, of course, the anatomy of the brain and the spinal cord are just so remarkable and amazing.

When did you know Neuro Surgery was going to be your top choice to pursue?

I came into medical school knowing I was really interested in it, so I pursued it from the outset.  I knew it was competitive, so even if I ultimately chose a different specialty, having the research and board scores for neurosurgery would set me up well for another specialty, too.

I knew I needed some additional research experience.  I got involved with UNC and learing more about neuroanatomy. My primary mentor at UNC was a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Carolyn Quinsey .  I have one publication, a paper, and a few posters.

It definitely was a lot of hard work and seeking opportunities at other places, like UNC, but I’m really excited to have ended up at a great residency program.  Campbell was able to give me the chance to succeed, and that’s the way it ended up happening. Overall, I feel very grateful.

Why choose a residency in Roanoke, Virginia?

Carilion really stood out to me because it is a massive level 1 trauma center with 850 beds that serves a huge geographic area in the moutains.  It felt very much like home since I’ve spent so many years of my life in Boone.  This residency program used to be a DO AOA only neuro residency, and it is one of the few programs that was able to make the transition to an ACGME accredited program.

Also, we are expecting our first child at the end of April, so our top choices were Carilion or UNC Chapel Hill to either be close to her family here in Raleigh or my family is in Roanoke. Neurological surgery residency is 7 years and can be grueling and sort of hard on the family, so being close to family is going to be awesome.  We’re really excited!

I’m not the only Class of ’22 member headed to Carilion; my classmate Thomas Davis will be there for internal medicine.  It will be really nice to have him there, too!

Final thoughts?

Thank you, Campbell for giving me the opportunity to go to medical school!  I also want to thank my dad, and Dr. Craig Fowler who worked with me on my personal statement and gave me a lot of great advice as well as Drs. Mann and Mahalick.  Thank you to Dr. Quincy and the entire Neuro department at UNC.  I truly appreciate everyone who helped me along the way!