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The Future Is Bright

The Match Game: Medical students discover their bright future in heartwarming ways

Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine
Match Day at Baylor College of Medicine March 2014 Ben match board

With four years of medical school almost behind them, students at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School and Baylor College of Medicine found out Friday where they will begin the next phase of their training. 

It's a tradition called Match Day that takes place every year on the same day across the nation, thanks to computer technology and the National Resident Matching Program. At an appointed time, students tear into an individual envelope to find out where they will spend their residency, which can last from three to seven years. Behind each match is a story of hard work, hope for a brighter future and determination to make the world a better place.

Again this year, representatives of both schools were on hand and sent CultureMap some of the students' very personal stories.

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Baylor College of Medicine class president Zheng Ben Ma rips open the Match Board, revealing the envelopes that indicate where each medical student will go on to pursue his or her residency training. Ma matched in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. 

Photo by Hannah Rhodes/UT Health Medical School
Match Day from UT Health March 2014 FT getting letter

Of the 230 excited UT Health students who took part in Match Day, half will remain in Texas for at least the first year of their residencies and 23 percent will train at UTHealth. Internal medicine, pediatrics and anesthesiology were among the most popular areas of medicine for residency training.

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For Fehintola “FT” Omidele, Match Day was more than a celebration that she will train as a pediatrics resident at UTHealth. It was a thank you to her parents, Nigerian immigrants who sacrificed so much to ensure that their children had opportunities to pursue their dreams in the United States.

From a young age, Omidele knew she wanted to be a doctor. When she was hospitalized with severe asthma, she didn’t fear the doctors like other children, and constantly played with her toy medical kit, earning her the nickname “Dr. FT.”

"I love people and science. You put them together and you get medicine,” said Omidele, 24, who grew up in Cinco Ranch.

She will be the first physician in her family and plans to practice the art of healing in Texas while also creating sustainable global health programs in underserved countries like her birthplace. “Becoming a pediatrician is my way of impacting the world,” she said.

— Meredith Raine

Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine
Match Day at Baylor College of Medicine March 2014 Jupin Malhi

At Baylor College of Medicine, 173 students found out where they will spend the next step in their training; 73 will take part in residency programs in Texas, with 45 at BCM. 78 of the students  are entering primary care residency programs in the fields of family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, medicine/pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology or emergency medicine.

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For Baylor student Jupin Malhi, going into an emergency medicine residency was a long time coming. When she was 13 years old, her father was taken to a local emergency room in Dallas after suffering a heart attack. After 50 minutes of CPR, they were not able to resuscitate him. Malhi vividly remembers going into the ER with her 8 year-old-brother and the emergency medicine physician who talked them through what was going on.

In high school, Malhi became certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and during her first CPR case, found herself doing compressions on a patient in the same trauma room of the same Dallas hospital where her father was taken. This time, she was the caretaker.

Malhi matched at New York Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia and Cornell.

— Dipali Pathak

Photo by Jenna Taylor/UT Health Medical School
Match Day from UT Health March 2014 Lauren and Kyle - We got in

Lauren Hoffman and Kyle Oholendt were among the UTHealth Medical School students who participated this year in what is informally known as the" couples match." The two Texans met in the gross anatomy lab during their first year at UTHealth and soon realized they were a perfect match.

They learned Friday that they both matched to Ohio State University College of Medicine. Hoffman, 26, will do an internal medicine residency while Oholendt, 25, will train in a medicine/pediatrics program. The first in their families to become physicians, they are looking forward to the responsibility that comes with healing patients. 

For Hoffman, she was initially influenced by seeing how important physicians were in the recovery of a friend who was paralyzed in an accident. For both of them, it’s about the science, the people and the privilege to treat patients. “Match Day is the light at the end of the tunnel,” Oholendt said. “We’ve worked really hard and now we get to use our skills to help patients.”

— Meredith Raine

Photo by Deborah Mann/UT Health Medical School
Match Day from UT Health March 2014 Chelsea and Ian with match letters

For UTHealth Medical School student Chelsea Johnson, shown here with her boyfriend and fellow student Ian Patterson, Match Day was a springboard. A former competitive diver, Johnson, 26, is pairing the discipline she learned in competitive sports with the knowledge and skills she obtained in medical school to plunge into the next phase of her medical training.

“I’ve always wanted to pursue medicine as a career, and pediatrics seems like the best fit for me,” said Johnson, who grew up in Keller, a suburb of Fort Worth.

She enjoys the challenge of pediatrics and the resiliency of patients who never seem to lose their energy, even at their sickest. “It’s rejuvenating,” she said.  

Like Hoffman and Oholendt, Johnson and Patterson participated in the couples match. They opened their envelopes and learned they matched to their first choice – Yale School of Medicine – where they will train together as pediatrics residents.

— Meredith Raine

Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine
Match Day at Baylor College of Medicine March 2014 Joe & Family

Medical school was a late choice for Baylor College of Medicine student Joe Nelson, who completed his undergraduate degree in physics. In the middle of his those studies, he moved to Thailand for two years, where he did missionary work as well as taught English, all while becoming fluent in Thai.

After returning to the U.S., he realized he missed the one-on-one interaction with people and this led him to a career in medicine. As a father of three young boys, Nelson understood the struggles of affordable access to healthcare and has been interested in primary care ever since. He feels that an important part of improving the healthcare system is to build a robust primary care system.

He has helped create a movement at Baylor to encourage other medical students to pursue careers in primary care. Nelson plans to pursue a career in family medicine. Nelson matched at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

— Dipali Pathak

Photo by Deborah Mann/UT Health Medical School
Match Day from UT Health March 2014 marshall gets a hug from his wife.

UTHealth Medical School student Marshall Lerman, here getting a big hug from wife Amy, was a successful attorney working up to 16 hours daily at top law firms. It’s what he had worked so hard for and yet he found it unfulfilling. “I felt that I wasn’t doing anything to make the world a better place,” said Lerman, 37.

Recognizing it was time for a change, he was inspired, in part, by the pediatrician who cared for him as a child and who was now overseeing the health care of his own daughter.  “I realized that what I wanted to do was work with children,” Lerman said. “I wanted to help families on their journey as their children grow up.”

In 2010, the Dallas native moved with his wife Amy and 2-year-old daughter to Houston so he could begin medical school. For Lerman, Match Day is validation that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

Surrounded by family and friends, he learned that he’ll be doing his pediatrics residency at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “I’ll be making a transition to a career where I can utilize my skill set to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. That’s what pediatrics is all about,” he said.

— Meredith Raine

Photo by Deborah Mann/UT Health Medical School
Match Day from UT Health March 2014 lindsey and rachel hug

Identical twins Lindsey and Rachel Schmidtberger joke that it must be in their DNA. Growing up in Garland, they each decided at a young age that they wanted to grow up to be Longhorns and doctors, even though no one in their family had ever attended The University of Texas at Austin or had careers in the health care field.

Together, the sisters chose UTHealth for medical school and during an elective in dermatology, they both decided—independently of each other— that it was the field they wanted to enter. Both enjoy the patients, the fast-paced clinic work, being in charge of the treatment plans and seeing results.

After 25 years of living together, it was possible they would receive news on Match Day that they would be heading to different residency programs, maybe even in different states. They were shocked and delighted when they learned they’ll remain together for dermatology residency at UTHealth.

“We got a couple’s match and we didn’t mean to,” joked Lindsey as she wiped tears of joy from her eyes. “I am really shocked. I was not expecting this.”

— Meredith Raine

Photo courtesy of Baylor College of Medicine
Match Day at Baylor College of Medicine March 2014 Dennis & Stephanie

Baylor College of Medicine students Stephanie Ng and Dennis Shung met during their first year of medical school and were recently married. Both have worked together to encourage and support one another in their shared commitment to reach out to the underserved.

Through an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Shung created a volunteer program at Ben Taub Hospital to help patients when they are discharged from the emergency room. Through her Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Ng worked with the Hope Clinic to help increase patients’ access to mental health care. Both of them co-led the Baylor chapter of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School, which is spearheading the first BCM Patient Safety and Quality Conference and created the new Patient Safety clinical elective.

Ng and Shung participated in the ‘couples match,’ designed for those who wish to match in residency programs in the same city – Ng in psychiatry and Shung in internal medicine. Ng and Shung matched at Yale – New Haven Hospital.

— Dipali Pathak