After delivering thousands of babies over the course of 26 years as an OB/GYN, the likelihood of remembering a single baby seems … unlikely.

Nonetheless, when Wayne Perry, M.D. was introduced to one of Decatur County Memorial Hospital’s newest physician assistant students doing her OB/GYN rotation, something rang a bell.
When Zoey Johnson introduced herself, Dr Perry responded with, “Where are you from?”

“I thought he was just making small talk, but then he said, ‘I think I delivered you.’ I texted my mom, and she confirmed that Dr. Perry was definitely the doctor who delivered me,” she recounted. “It is just crazy to think about … what a small world!”

Maybe even more than she knows. At any given time, DCMH has more than 50 students in its facilities, seeking experience in the healthcare area – from pharmacy to phlebotomy and every area in between, including obstetrics. The chances of her ending up in Dr. Perry’s department were not overtly assured.

“As a hospital, we’ve always enjoyed having students around. It’s so important to educate that next generation; to show them what we are about and give them a taste of what working in this field is really like,” says Dr. Perry. “With COVID, that was all shut down. It’s good to have students back with us.”

Zoey is equally grateful, especially given the long shadow that the COVID-19 pandemic has cast on healthcare facilities. “I was unsure of what restraints would be put on a student using PPE or experiences I would be offered,” she explained. “I’ve not been denied any opportunity to learn. Patients probably don’t realize how grateful I am.”

For Zoey, a career in medicine evolved from being an athlete who experienced her share of injuries. “I ran cross country through high school and college, and it seemed like I was in doctor’s offices all the time. I just wanted to help people get back to doing what they love,” she says.

Dr. Perry think she’s on the right track. “For most people, it’s a calling to reach out and help others. It takes dedication and long hours, but the rewards are wonderful. Getting to interact in people’s lives and helping improve someone’s quality of life,” he reflects. “Dedication, determination, discipline, drive are all the keys to success in any field.”

Meanwhile, the unique situation of Zoey’s current rotation in OB isn’t lost on Dr. Perry. “As a physician, it makes you proud as well and gives you a little sense of accomplishment that you’re able to help teach and educate this next generation of health care professionals.”