From a young age, EC alumnus, Clayton Fulbright, ’16 knew he wanted to go into medicine for no other reason than it felt like a calling on his life.
For Clayton, it was never a question as to how, when, or whether the door would open. He knew that the incredible footprints of God would lead him step by step.
It was those footprints that led the Stephens County native to enroll in Emmanuel College’s Dual Enrollment program as a high school student. While at EC, Clayton met Dr. Karen Pasko, a professor in the Department of Natural Sciences who quickly saw Clayton’s potential.
“I think she saw my joy for the sciences,” Clayton said. “I loved anatomy and microbiology, so she saw the opportunity to recruit me to work for her as her teacher’s assistant for the next few years.”
As a Pre-Professional major at Emmanuel, Clayton completed science-heavy courses and worked off-campus shadowing several physicians, one being a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or DO.
Clayton liked the idea of becoming a DO, so when it came time to apply for medical school, he decided to apply for both the MD and DO tracks.
Clayton applied at several schools. However, it was at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Virginia Campus, where he felt at home.
“I went there for an open house and met someone there who I had met several years earlier with Dr. Pasko at a Medical Missions conference,” he said. “He was able to show me around campus, introduce me to the faculty and staff. I found what seemed like a similar environment to what I had at Emmanuel,”
It was this communal aspect of the program that stuck with Clayton. Therefore, after completing an interview and being offered a position at VCOM, he didn’t hesitate to accept.
Many believe that the first year of medical school is the hardest. However, Clayton felt prepared because of the classes he took at Emmanuel.
“It’s a miracle when you look at my senior year schedule at Emmanuel and my first-year schedule at medical school because it lined up so well,” Clayton said. “I was incredibly prepared for the first year. My classes at EC offered me an incredible start to my medical career.”
One thing Clayton cherished about his time at Emmanuel was the small class sizes, something that wasn’t the case in medical school.
“We had 190 people in our classrooms, to begin with, it was a lot different,” he remembered. “What I quickly realized was that your community becomes your study group which is self-determined and can fluidly change throughout your time in medical school.”
Clayton found that learning can happen anywhere, not just in the classroom.
“Just because you’re sitting in a lecture hall doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where all of your learning happens,” he said. “It felt like, outside that major classroom, a lot of learning still happened in a similar-sized cohort as Emmanuel and the smaller classes.”
After spending his two clinical years in Aiken, SC, Clayton, and his wife, Stephanie will relocate to Canton, Ohio where he’ll begin his residency at Aultman Hospital. Once his residency is finished, he will have to practice as an OBGYN for 2-3 years to become board certified, then the couple can set their sights on their next adventure…medical missions.
“Stephanie’s family has a rich history in the mission community,” Clayton said. “Being able to see the countries and the communities they’ve worked in would be great. We would like to end up somewhere in Southeast Asia or West Africa but are completely open to wherever the Lord is willing to lead us.”
What advice would he give to students looking to go into medical school?
“I think if you’re considering this path, you should be fully committed to the calling with complete confidence in the call itself and faith in its origin, God,” Clayton said. “I think it’s common in this path whether at medical school or during residency, which I can’t speak on yet to hit moments of doubt and worry that you’re going in the wrong direction. I firmly believe the only reason I’m strengthened to continue on this journey is my trust in the Lord and my confidence in his call.”
One other piece of advice Clayton spoke on was preparation.
“Preparation is key,” he said. It is not necessarily everyone’s path to know early on what the Lord has called them to do but the earlier you know the more prepared you will be. Make sure you have things on your resume that will interest the programs you are applying for. Have shadowing and volunteer experience and make sure that you have taken enough time to prepare for the MCAT.”
From a young age, Clayton Fulbright knew he would go into medicine for no other reason than it felt like a calling from God. It was never a question as to how, when, or whether the door would open for him. From Stephens County to Franklin Springs, to Virginia, Aiken, and now Canton, OH…the incredible footprints of God have led him step by step.