A young Ryan Yadav assumed he would move far away from home when he set off for college. But after eight years of training at the University of Kentucky, he wants to remain a Kentuckian now more than ever.

Yadav’s family moved to Northern Kentucky when he was in third grade. His father worked in financial services at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, so when Yadav showed interest in becoming a doctor, he had early access to volunteer at the family practice center and shadow providers. He said he always felt a connection to St. Elizabeth for its mission to make Northern Kentucky among the healthiest communities in America.

Yadav ultimately decided to earn his undergraduate degree an hour and a half south of home in Lexington at the University of Kentucky. He “fell in love” with UK and the impact he could make while remaining in the Commonwealth.

Then it came time for medical school. Yadav heard that UK was opening a four-year medical school campus back home in Northern Kentucky, and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “When they announced this regional campus, it seemed like it was meant to be for me to try and come back here,” he said.

This spring, Yadav will be among the first graduates of the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus, established in partnership with UK, St. Elizabeth, and Northern Kentucky University to address the state’s physician shortage. As a member of the inaugural class, Yadav helped “set the tone” for how the campus could best serve Kentuckians, according to founding associate dean Steven Haist, MD, MS. 

Because the campus is relatively small, accepting up to 35 students per class, Yadav enjoyed smaller classroom sizes, close interactions with St. Elizabeth providers and health care professionals, as well as early exposure to hands-on medical training experiences. He also had access to NKU’s state-of-the-art facilities, including its high-tech simulation center.

An additional benefit to the campus was the close-knit community, where “everyone knew everyone.” Yadav said he experienced what other medical students could not in larger settings. For example, during the height of COVID-19, Dr. Haist called each student personally to check in.

“I think the best way to learn and to grow is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations,” Yadav said. “Being part of the first class and starting the medical school was intimidating, but Dr. Haist did an amazing job setting the foundation. My class is happy with how it has turned out.”

Little did Yadav know that remaining close to home, he would have such an impactful college experience, but he cherishes his years at UK and the UK College of Medicine.

So he knew exactly where he wanted to apply for residency. 

“I asked myself, ‘What are the things that matter?’ To me, that was location, work-life balance, and do they care about the residents?” Yadav said. “UK was at the top of my list.”

Yadav said he was thrilled when he opened his Match Day letter and discovered he matched into the primary care track of UK’s internal medicine residency program. He will only be a short drive away from his family, including his sister Megan who is a second-year medical student at the Northern Kentucky Campus. To Yadav, primary care embodied what it meant to be a physician. He is most excited to learn and to serve as an advocate for patients through all aspects of health care.

He has already met his fellow primary care track interns, and he could not help but notice that all of them are from Kentucky, and five are from UK – a testament to the College of Medicine’s focus on its mission.

And where does Yadav want to go after residency training? Well, if he is lucky, he said he will be back at St. Elizabeth, helping make Northern Kentucky one of the healthiest communities in the country.