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Erica Matthews, College of Medicine student

Seeing the Good in Others: Erica Matthews

For one Northeast Ohio Medical University student, a career in pediatrics was always the plan.

Erica Matthews, a rising fourth-year College of Medicine student, names her young niece and nephew as her favorite people in the world. Throughout high school, she taught dance classes for toddlers to teens, and most recently served as a co-leader for NEOMED’s Fit for Kids program.

“I love working with [kids] and watching them figure themselves out and grow. It’s really special to be a part of that,” says Matthews.

A different perspective

So it was a bit of a surprise, though a good one, when during her third-year clerkships, Matthews discovered another area of medicine where she felt right at home: child and adolescent psychiatry.

“I really loved my psychiatry rotation. It’s where I felt like I was helping people the most. Optimistically, I think I could change the trajectory of kids’ lives, because so many issues in people’s lives start in childhood,” she says.

With her compassion and dedication, it’s no wonder that Matthews’ peers and professors nominated her to be inducted into NEOMED’s Virtuous Healer Honor Society, an organization that recently made its debut at NEOMED. VHHS recognizes NEOMED students, residents and faculty who exemplify altruism, compassion, curiosity, generosity, humility, justice and moral imagination.

The NEOMED Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) was the predecessor to VHHS and is historically linked to it. NEOMED GHHS inductees are included as members of VHHS.

Words with meaning

During the VHHS induction ceremony, a remark by Joseph Zarconi, M.D. (’81), professor and chair of internal medicine, resonated with Matthews.

“It’s common for people to ask, ‘How are you?’ and for them to reply ‘I’m good,’ but that’s kind of the wrong way — you’re supposed to say ‘I’m well.’ But Dr. Zarconi had an interesting point. He said, ‘I kind of like when people say that, because it’s almost a reality check. Are you actually doing good? Are you doing good for people? Are you doing good things with your life? When I hear them say that, I smile to myself because I think, I honestly do hope you are doing good, and I think that what medicine is all about.’ I liked that because I like to think that I do good and that I’m caring and compassionate,” says Matthews.

It’s the people like Dr. Zarconi and her peers who have made NEOMED such a special place for this student.

“I always tell people, one of my favorite things about being here is that I think I’ve met some of the best people that I’m ever going to meet in my life here. My classmates, the faculty and staff — they’re all just really great, caring people and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”