Fulfilling the mission: The Class of 2020 in Campbell Residency Programs

Eighteen members of the Class of 2020 will enter a Campbell University Affiliate Residency Program in July, bringing the total number of Campbell Medicine Alumni to continue their training over the past four years in a Campbell Residency to 61 —including Emergency Medicine Chief Residents at Cape Fear Valley Health and Southeastern Health.  Four members of the Class of 2020 share their reflections on why they chose to continue their physician training with Campbell University.

Part 1:  Cape Fear Valley Health
Derek Clar, DO (’20), Transitional Year, Cape Fear Valley Health
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Undergraduate University: Le Moyne College

What was your journey to medical school?

I grew up in a family with no medical degrees and working class extended family. In high school, I originally wanted to pursue law until my parents told me to broaden my

Derek Clar (DO ’20) presented his research at NC LEAD 2019

horizons, so I shadowed a family friend who was an Anesthesiologist and immediately fell in love with medicine.  For the next five years, from high school to college, I applied for jobs in the hospital to gain experience on the front lines of patient care. I spent several of those years volunteering and shadowing, while continuously being passed over by HR.   Finally, the summer of my senior year of college, I was offered a nursing assistant position in a MICU through Newark-Wayne Community Hospital affiliated with the Rochester Regional Health system; a job which I continued to work during breaks in medical school until I started my 3rd year clinical rotations.

During my undergrad studies, I made it my mission to build a solid foundation of the basic sciences by earning a BS in Biochemistry. I headed 3 major research projects my junior and senior years in organic synthesis, biochemistry, and clinical psychology in order to begin honing my skills as a researcher. When I was not in class, I served as an RA my sophomore and junior years and ran Division-II Cross Country and Track sophomore through senior years.  My senior year of undergrad, I applied to medical school and got wait-listed at several places, including CUSOM.  I was finally offered a spot at CUSOM two days after my undergrad graduation.

What are the positives to doing a transitional year at a Campbell Residency program?

Some people might feel like they aren’t moving on or gaining a different experience, but the affiliate hospital is a completely different atmosphere than the university.  Some programs aren’t designed that way – if you went to medical school there, you are in the same hospital, but for us it can be a different location with new people – different residents and the physicians you train under.  However, it is also familiar.  I know and understand the patient population.  I have gotten to know the underserved community in Fayetteville and know how to communicate with our patients.  That learning curve – learning how to establish the patient contract and buy-in to the treatment plan – is a major source of physician burnout, so that is definitely a positive for continuing my training here.  Also, the staff and residents are really supportive.; they do a good job of helping your identify what you need to work on and also reminding you to take a break and take care of yourself.

What area of medicine are you pursuing?

I will be applying for anesthesiology and internal medicine – critical care is my goal, and I know training at Cape Fear will prepare me well.

You were a member of the North Carolina Medical Society’s 2019 Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership – Do you see advocacy continuing to be part of your career?

Yes, I am a member of the North Carolina Medical Society’s Legislative Cabinet, and it is a year long position.  So, while I could have continued to participate from out of state, I believe being in North Carolina and one of a few members of the Cabinet not in Raleigh or Winston-Salem will be a positive.  I will bring a different perspective – for example, I see how Medicaid expansion would have a positive impact on the Fayetteville community.  I look forward to representing residents and my community in this role.

Paul Tonog (DO ’20)
Paul Tonog, DO (’20), General Surgery, Cape Fear Valley Health
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
Undergraduate University:  North Carolina State University
Masters Degree: NYCOM

What was your journey to medical school?

When I graduated from college, I had taken the MCAT kind of on a whim and didn’t get the best score, so I decided to take some time and try to prepare and get a better score.  I got a research position at NYCOM and ended up earning my masters degree while I was there.  When my father passed away in 2013, I was honestly kind of lost for a while and was thinking through whether I was pursuing medicine for him or for own reasons.  When I came back from New York, I got a position with Duke University School of Medicine as Simulation Technician, and it was that experience that really solidified that I wanted to pursue medicine.  Interacting with the students, sitting in on some of the classes, and being a part of their training – I decided yeah, I wanted to go to medical school.  So, one day on my lunch break, I went down to the admissions office, and even though I had earned my masters, they still advised I retake some courses to prove I could handle the rigor of medical school.  Duke didn’t have a program for that at the time, so they recommended I look into Campbell’s new Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Francine Anderson was the program director at that time.  We had a phone interview, and she offered me a seat in the inaugural cohort.  She took a chance on me, so I have her to thank for giving me an opportunity at Campbell.  At the end of the spring semester, I was offered a seat in the Class of 2020, and I took it.  I’m so thankful to everyone at Campbell and all of the opportunities and support I’ve been given.

Why Cape Fear Valley Health?

When it was time for the Match, I was happy to choose Campbell.  My family moved to North Carolina in the 1990’s for my father, Dr. Jose Tan Tonog, Jr., to take a position as an Emergency physician at Cape Fear Valley Health, so growing up here I heard about the success of Campbell’s pharmacy school and was familiar with Campbell.  When you think about where you want to go for residency, you want to know you are going to a program that is going to train you to be competent physician.  The programs that have name recognition – Duke, Johns Hopkins, etc. – but, we have that here at Cape Fear Valley, too.  Many of the attending physicians trained at university and prestigious programs, so the pedigree is here.  Also, I enjoyed being close to home during medical school – I could go get a home cooked meal and, now that my dad is gone, its important for me to spend time with my mom.

My clinical site was Southeastern Health in Lumberton, but I did an away rotation at Cape Fear Valley.  Being from here, I know the patient population and want to take care of them.  I understand the dynamics and challenges of our community.  Fayetteville isn’t considered a small town, but we definitely have an underserved population.  I was born in New York, but I definitely consider myself a Southerner.  When my accent comes out, and I say “yes, sir/yes ma’am” to my patients, they ask “are you from here?” – it’s a special relationship when I tell them yes, I’m from Fayetteville.

Also the residents and atmosphere are great.  Dr. Rachel Dellehunt (DO ’17) is now a fourth year surgery resident, so I’m looking forward to training under her.

What is it like to be a physician where your father worked?

I have big shoes to fill.  I can hear him speaking to me now more than ever – telling me to work hard.  There are still physicians and nurses here who worked with him.  When I went down to the ED on a trauma case, I had folks stop me and ask “Are you related to Jose Tonog?”, and it is very humbling to say yes, I’m his son.

I’m looking forward to continuing to be part of the community.  I owe so much to Campbell and the people here; I look forward to staying connected and giving back.

Part 2:  Rural Affiliate Hospitals will be published Monday, May 18, 2020.