54-year-old Winston-Salem woman realizing dream of becoming doctor

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A family tragedy rekindled a lifelong dream for a Winston-Salem woman and today she found out how she'd spend her future.

It's an annual rite of passage at medical schools across the country, the step from medical school into residency. For Suzanne Watson, that step came more than 20 years later than expected.

Match Day is held simultaneously at medical schools across the country with soon-to-be doctors, surrounded by friends and family, opening envelopes containing the information about where they’ll spend their residency, learning their specialty.

At 54, most of Watson’s classmates are younger than her own children.

She had hoped to follow her grandfather’s footsteps into psychiatry, something she knew from the age of 5 she wanted to do.

She was accepted into medical school, but put that on hold to raise a family, becoming an ordained minister instead.

More than 20 years later, her grown children are here to experience the moment with her.

“My children, I think, are really proud and that’s a tremendous source of joy for me,” Watson said.

Her daughter Isabella confirms.

“I think she has a knack for helping people, and she’s going into psychiatry and mental illness has affected our family so I think she’s going to have a lot of empathy dealing with people.”

It was about 5 years ago she decided to start over after coming to grips with the death of her husband and getting her financial affairs in a place that could sustain medical school.

“What precipitated my move to apply to med school again was losing my spouse to mental health issues, he committed suicide, which is very sad and tragic event in our family’s life,” Watson said.

With the clock counting down to noon when all the envelopes can be opened, her future depends on what’s in the envelope on a single sheet of paper.

And she let her kids see it first.
They pull a sparkly letter U C and out of group of letters they brought to announce to their mother the result.

“If it’s just a C, I think that’s, is it Cincinnati? Is it Cincinnati!” exclaimed the elder Watson.

Cheers all around the room as the medical students all got their results.

“I’m so proud of you! I can’t believe you’re going to Cincinnati,” said daughter Lily as she embraced her mom.

Cincinnati had a dual program of psychiatry and family medicine, Suzanne’s ultimate desire, a program with two openings and 800 applicants.

“I thought it was a real long shot that I’d get any of the combination programs so I’m really, really happy today!”

“It’s like a combination of psychiatry and family medicine which are the two disciplines that she’s always really wanted to practice and she couldn’t really choose so she got the best of both worlds,” said Lily.

“This is the most proud of her I’ve been in my entire life,” said her daughter Isabella.

“I’m so proud of her, I couldn’t be more proud,” said her daughter Lily.

Suzanne Watson says she’ll wait until after her residency to decide where to practice but says one thing’s for sure; she’s going to work for as long as she’s physically and mentally able.