JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Certain Region 8 communities will soon be welcoming new doctors to their area.
A graduation ceremony took place at St. Bernard's Auditorium on Friday.
Eight medical residents graduated from the UAMS Northeast Family Medicine Residency Program.
Dr. Clinton Smith said he knew early on that he would want to work in a rural community.
"I grew up in a rural town in Southeast Missouri," Smith said. "I grew up in Neelyville. And so, I knew initially when I started medical school that I would probably want to practice in a rural area."
Dr. Smith said medicine wasn't his first area of interest.
"Initially, I was more interested in biological sciences and hadn't given the medical field much thought," Smith said. "I went to the University of Missouri, and that's where I got my undergraduate degree and started volunteering at the hospital and then that's where my initial interest comes from."
Dr. Smith said he felt family practice was what he wanted to do.
"When I did my clerkship 3rd and 4th year I was basically interested in everything," Smith said. "I couldn't say I only want to do this every day. I knew if I went into primary care I could do a little bit of everything. And that's one of the appealing aspects of family medicine. You never know what's going to be behind the next door."
Dr. Smith is going to practice at First Choice Healthcare in Corning.
"I'm very excited," Smith said. "This has been about a 14-year journey. My wife, kids and I are all excited to be done."
Walnut Ridge will also have a new doctor.
Dr. Cassie Hunter also graduated from the UAMS program.
Dr. Hunter said she couldn't imagine practicing anywhere but a smaller town.
"I'm from a rural area," Hunter said. "Lynn has a population of around 300 people. I grew up there, and I can't really picture raising my family anywhere else other than a rural area."
Dr. Hunter said while in medical school she discovered she was interested in a wide range of areas.
"As I started my third and fourth years of medical school in my clinics," Hunter said. "I noticed I like a lot of things. When I would deliver a baby, I would wonder where the pediatrics teams were taking it. Family medicine allows me to practice full scope of medicine where I take care of people literally from birth until death."
Dr. Hunter said she was proud to be part of a solution to areas that need good doctors.
"Medically under-served areas are abundant around here," Hunter said. "Lots of places are in need of doctors right now."
There were six additional graduates of the residency program.
Dr. Dusty Boyd and Dr. Christopher Fallon will be joining St. Bernards Regional Medical Center Emergency Department in Jonesboro.
Dr. Joy Skaug will be practicing at First Care on Parker Road in Jonesboro.
Dr. Stacy Gibson will be practicing at the White River Medical Family Clinic in Batesville.
Dr. Thanh Le will be working at the Sparks Clinic Family Medicine in Van Buren
Dr. Caryn Pendleton is headed to the Central Arkansas Family Practice in Bryant
So far 176 doctors have graduated from the residency program.
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