Recent med school graduate and future Atrium Health resident, Rebecca DeCarlo, was recognized at the White House to recognize her exemplorary COVID-19 response work.

News | one year ago

Future Atrium Health Neurosurgery Resident Honored at the White House

While Rebecca DeCarlo’s medical school graduation ceremony may have been canceled due to COVID-19, she had an even greater celebration in store: A trip to the White House where she was recognized for her exemplary COVID-19 response work. Following this incredible invitation, Rebecca will move to Charlotte to prepare for her next chapter as the first female resident at the Neurological Surgery Residency Program at Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center.

How do you celebrate your graduation from medical school if COVID-19 cancels your ceremony? How about a trip to the White House instead? 

A future Atrium Health neurosurgery resident, Rebecca DeCarlo, did just that when she was invited to be a part of very select group at an exclusive event hosted by the President of the United States.

Rebecca is a recent graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, which is the flagship medical school of the University Systems of Georgia located in Augusta, Georgia.  

“It was a humbling and amazing experience to be the only medical student and only graduate student in attendance for the ceremony,” said Rebecca. She was one of only 20 students hand-picked from across the nation to participate in a special ceremony at the White House. 

So how to does one go from medical school graduate to guest of the President?  

She made a lot of phone calls.  

But not just any type of phone call. Each call she placed was part of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contact tracing protocols she helped develop with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Contact tracing is the process of identifying individuals who may have come into contact with an infected person and the subsequent collection of additional information about these contacts. Her work was so well received that the Medical College of Georgia is actually incorporating it into a newly created pandemic medicine course. And before she graduated, Rebecca helped train nearly 200 student and faculty with the new protocols. 

“I got involved with contact tracing with the Georgia Department of Public Health with the intention of giving back,” said Rebecca, “It’s truly been incredible, because I never expected to receive such a valuable experience back in return.” 

And now it’s Atrium Health’s turn to offer up another valuable experience. Rebecca will be joining a very select group of physicians-in-training this summer as the seventh and final member of the neurosurgery residency team. Through a unique partnership between Atrium Health and Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates (CNSA), these highly skilled neurosurgeons serve as the faculty for the Neurological Surgery Residency Program at Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center. 

“Rebecca brings a number of unique personal and intellectual talents that will serve to further elevate the culture and standing of this already distinguished program that has rapidly become one of the most respected and competitive in the country,” said Tony Asher, MD, FACS, president of Atrium Health’s Neuroscience Institute and a neurosurgeon with Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates (CNSA). 

Rebecca will also be making a little history of her own at Atrium Health – she will be the first female resident in the neurosurgery program. 

“Both Atrium Health and CSNA believe that neurosurgery, and the profession of medicine more broadly, benefit from the promotion and participation of individuals from a diverse demography. We are particularly committed to fostering greater female representation in our traditionally male-dominated specialty,” Dr. Asher added. 

Eight years ago, Atrium Health and CSNA joined forces to develop this nationally leading neurosurgery residency training program that has been attracting exceptional talent across the country, like Rebecca. She and other top talent joining the Neurological Surgery Residency Program will begin their program this July. 

And as far as not being able to be part a graduation ceremony due to COVID-19, Rebecca says she’s okay with it now. After all, she got to bring her parents with her to the White House as a thank you for their ongoing support through the years for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not a bad trade off.