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Medical student serves communities close to home and around the world

Emory Report | May 8, 2019

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Joey Sharp poses on Match Day with his fiancé, Talley Cook, when medical students learn where they have matched to complete their residency training. Photo by Jack Kearse.

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Joey Sharp grew up around the corner from Emory, graduating from Decatur’s Lakeside High School and going on to attend the University of Georgia, but his choice to attend medical school was inspired by experiences far beyond his home state. 

“I grew up the child of a nurse practitioner and physician-epidemiologist at CDC, but it was not until college that I developed my own independent interest in public health and medicine," he explains. "After spending time working on community-based HIV treatment delivery projects in South Africa, I realized that I wanted to attend a medical school with a commitment to serving both their local community and the global community.”

Sharp found evidence of that dual commitment at Emory. 

“Growing up in Atlanta I knew the vital role that Grady Memorial Hospital plays in the city and largely fell in love with Emory because of the opportunity to learn and care for patients at Grady. I also knew that the faculty was outstanding, there was a strong affiliation with Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and CDC and I was excited about the 18-month pre-clinical curriculum,” says Sharp, who is graduating summa cum laude.

Throughout the pre-clinical years of the medical school program Sharp helped to organize two student-run clinics for homeless men in downtown Atlanta. He traveled to Dharamsala, India, with a group of classmates to take classes on Tibetan medicine and hike in the foothills of the Himalayas. And during his fourth year, he spent a month on the wards of the national referral hospital in Uganda. 

But as much as he enjoys traveling, Sharp has also developed an even deeper affection for Atlanta and the Southeast during medical school.

“I’ve come to love the diverse cosmopolitan city that can feel both like a small town and like the entire world is right down the street,” he says, though he jokes that it may take a while to get there during rush hour. 

When he has time to venture outside the city, Sharp is active in Emory’s wilderness medicine club, which led to a newfound passion for kayaking. Last year he even progressed to the point of paddling the Chattooga, considered a class IV — or advanced — river.

Making his match

Along with his classmates, Sharp participated in the national residency matching program this past March, hoping to stay at Emory for internal medicine residency because of the incredible clinical training in a variety of hospitals, the outstanding faculty and mentors, and the great residents. On March 15, Match Day, he learned that he’d matched at Emory in internal medicine, and he hopes to pursue a fellowship in infectious diseases after residency.

“Between Grady, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, I know that I will feel comfortable practicing in any clinical environment after finishing residency,” he says. 

Reflecting on the years leading up to residency, Sharp explains that “from doing compressions during my first code in the operating room to holding the hand of a dying patient without family, medical school, regardless of the school, is full of formative experiences that are etched into your memory forever. However, Emory enabled me to have many unique experiences both within medicine and outside of health care.”