Gold Rush Feature: Dr. Frazier, I presume?
July 6, 2012
By Jay Reddick, Gold Rush
Louis Frazier had been through a lot of this before. Recruiting. Official visits. "Tell me what you hope to accomplish here." And finally, the decision.
But this wasn't about football for the former offensive lineman (class of 2008). This was about beginning his life's work in medicine.
Every winter, recent medical school graduates across the country go through a process that's reminiscent of college sports recruiting, with a twist. Applicants meet with representatives from different first-year residency programs (Frazier talked with 11). After all the interviews are done, the hopefuls and the hospitals both submit lists in order of preference into a computer algorithm called the National Residency Match Program. And on the third Thursday in March, the computer makes its choices, then envelopes are distributed that tell all the applicants where their first job will be -- is it their first choice? Somewhere down the list? Match Day can be a source of joy or heartbreak.
"It's like Oscar night," Frazier said. "You have your little envelope, and you don't know what's coming next. 'And the Oscar goes to...'"
Frazier's credentials and charm got him his first pick -- he'll start his orientation at Vanderbilt in late June, for a residency in Emergency Medicine. He said he favored Vanderbilt for some of the same reasons he chose Wake Forest in the first place -- he met people he felt an immediate connection with and found a program he knew would push him toward excellence. Plus some smaller variables.
"Gold and black is one of my signs," Frazier said. "Those are Vanderbilt's team colors, too. I thought about that when I was leaving there, and that let me know."
After 8 1/2 years at Wake Forest, for undergraduate and medical school, Frazier has developed a great love for the school.
"Wake Forest basically made me the man I am today," Frazier said. "I had people my whole life tell me I wasn't smart enough to do this or that -- I wasn't smart enough to take advanced biology, to balance pre-med and football, that student-athletes don't make A's. But thanks to so many mentors and friends who encouraged me, I proved them wrong. Dr. (Herman) Eure (in biology) was there for me, Dr. (Ana-Maria) Wahl in sociology, Julie Griffin in the athletic department -- all there to encourage me and teach me.
"Wake Forest has just been a dream. I am so blessed and so thankful."
It took Frazier a little while to figure out which segment of the medical profession he would focus on. He thought of pediatrics, but decided that even though he loves kids, he wanted more diversity of patients. Then he considered cardiothoracic surgery.
"I work a lot," Frazier said. "But when I went through surgical rotation, I realized their hours are very, very long. You have to be really committed, and I have other things I want to do in life. If I want to act in a play, that's hard to accomplish as a surgeon."
Frazier finally settled on emergency medicine, which gave him the challenges he sought.
"With emergency medicine, I get to see kids as well as adults, go from room to room, and have so much variety. It gives me the opportunity to help trauma codes and cardiac arrests, do chest compressions, restart hearts. It keeps me on my toes. One of my instructors joked that ER doctors are jacks of all trades and masters of none -- well, I guess that's me."
So now, after so many years in Winston-Salem, Frazier must adjust to a new town. He has family in the Nashville area, and true to form, already made friends with some fellow residents on his campus visit. But he made them promise him something.
"I love everything, but y'all have to tell me I can find something other than country music," Frazier said, laughing. "If not, we're going to have a throwdown in the emergency department."