54 residents starting in East Texas during a global pandemic

Updated: Jul. 19, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - What a time to be starting a medical career.

For 54 new residents at the UT Health Science Center in Tyler, it may be just the right time.

“These are unprecedented times; I never imagined started residency in the middle of a pandemic,” said Shelbi Bolton, a new resident physician in Tyler. “But, I’m very excited to be on the front lines and helping anyone that comes my way.”

Thanks to two new residency programs in East Texas, Bolton said the largest class of resident physicians in East Texas history is starting during a global pandemic.

“I think it’s important as new physicians to learn everything we can about this virus; it’s something new and we need to get out there and get the information,” said Bolton. “We have to set an example for our patients and our community in terms of masks wearing and social distancing.”

For the new residents, they may not have imagined starting during a global pandemic but they’re using it to their advantage.

“It’s exciting in the fact that we are becoming new physicians in a situation where doctors are really needed worldwide, so the demand is higher,” said Gabriel Franklin, a new resident physician in Tyler. “I feel like me and all my co-residents have been forced to absorb more information quicker.”

Franklin hopes his fellow residents utilize their role to help educate the community while gaining their own education.

“I think what I would want them to know is have an understanding of the importance of what we’re learning right now,” said Franklin. “In terms of patient care and the major role that all health care professionals can play in helping to decrease those numbers and teaching patients what they need to know about the virus situation.”

Both Franklin and Bolton said they plan to stay in East Texas and hope to use what they learn during the pandemic to teach medical students when the new medical school is ready.

The UT Health Science Center is also planning to launch two new residency programs next year. Family Medicine in it’s hospitals and clinics in Athens and Rural Psychiatry in Pittsburg.

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