Homegrown: Training North Country Kids For a Career in Medicine

Family medicine resident physician in exam room

Ten years ago, high school student Joey Tousignant enrolled in career exploration program called New Visions at UVM Health Network-Alice Hyde Medical Center. The program offers motivated, high-achieving students an insider’s view into a wide range of health care roles through college-level courses, supervised clinical experience and job shadows with Emergency Department physicians, pediatricians, nurses, occupational therapists and much more.

Fast forward a decade and that high school student has graduated from osteopathic medical school in Pennsylvania, and returned to the North Country as Dr. Tousignant, a Family Medicine resident at UVM Health Network-Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.

“I’m very happy to have the opportunity to come home near family and take care of the people in the community where I was raised,” says Dr. Tousignant, whose wife is a nurse and also from Northern New York. They have two children with another on the way. “My ultimate goal is to specialize in sports medicine with a local practice.”

Deanna Smith, MSN, heads the New Visions health occupations program in Malone, N.Y. and has an office at Alice Hyde. She says that graduates of New Visions often go into careers that help fill the local demand for health care workers. “Over the years, these graduates have come back as physical therapists, physician assistants, pharmacists, physicians and lots and lots of nurses,” she says.

Dr. Tousignant credits New Visions with solidifying his plans to pursue medical school. “I got to see things I never would have seen until much later in my medical training, like the birth of twins,” he says. “That was the most amazing thing ever: seeing two brand-new lives enter the world within minutes.”