Every year, at the same time on campuses across the nation, medical students finishing their fourth year find out the next step in their future. It's called Match Day, where the students receive a sealed envelope which tells them where they will spend their residency, and it may be the most monumental day of their young career.
Friday on the campuses of the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) Medical School and Baylor College of Medicine, shown here, each student tore into the envelope to find out the next phase of medical training, thanks to computer technology and the National Resident Matching Program.
At UTHealth, 234 excited students discovered where they will begin the next phase of their medical training. Overall, 110 will stay in Texas and 44 matched to UTHealth programs. At BCM, 189 students participated in the match, with 90 students entering primary care residency programs. 42 students matched with residency programs at BCM and 69 matched with residency programs in Texas.
Again this year, representatives of both schools were on hand and sent CultureMap some of the students' very personal stories.
Nathaniel “Nate” Avila’s path to becoming a physician was not easy. One of 10 children, he grew up in a poor Houston neighborhood with a clear understanding of what it means to be an “underserved” patient with limited access to health care. Seeking to break the cycle of poverty, Avila leveraged his skills on the tennis court to earn a scholarship to The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Avila’s wife – a third-year student at the UTHealth Medical School – and their 7-month-old son were among family with him when he learned to his joy that he will be staying in Houston for an internal medicine residency at UTHealth.
“Since my brother died of cancer in 2010, it’s been a weight on my family. For my mom to see this, it’s the culmination of all that is good in our lives,” he said.
– Meredith Raine
Baylor College of Medicine student Carmelle Tsai, shown here embracing a classmate after matching in pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, took a few classes in medical anthropology midway through her undergraduate studies at Olin College of Engineering and became fascinated with how people view their own bodies through the lens of their culture.
This new concern combined with interest in with working with children and doing international mission work convinced her to change her career path from engineering to medicine.
She now focuses on caring for children. She works with children at her local church, mentors inner-city at risk youth and volunteers with a local anti-human trafficking organization. Tsai recently won first place in the 2012 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Annual Essay Contest, which challenges medical students to submit a reflective writing piece related to humanism in medicine.
— Dipali Pathak
Anthony Burton knew early on that he wanted to become a doctor and has participated in medical missions in Honduras and Kenya as well as earning a Master of Public Health degree at UTHealth’s School of Public Health. So it’s no wonder that he chose to become a family practice physician.
“It’s a moral obligation, really,” says Burton, 26. “There is a great shortage of primary care physicians, and I like the continuity of care.”
Ultimately, he would like to practice medicine in Texas, continue to go on mission trips and have the opportunity to teach. He matched to his No. 1 choice of Christian John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
“They’re a top-notch program and they’ve got a global health track. They share a heart for the underserved," he explained
– Meredith Raine
Elyse Portillo’s passion for medicine and care for the underserved brought her to Baylor College of Medicine to pursue not only a medical degree, but also a Master’s in Public Health through BCM's dual degree program with the University of Texas's School of Public Health.
Portillo was a student coordinator for the Care of the Underserved Track for medical students at BCM and she has also been involved with the Latino Medical Student Association. Through the organization she coordinated and developed the curriculum for two semester-long apprenticeships in the Citizen Schools program at Sharpstown International Middle School, where medical student volunteers take turns teaching weekly lessons about health and the human body.
Portillo is pursuing a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Boston and hopes to one day couple pediatric clinical practice in an underserved urban setting with leadership in community-based interventions to improve access to and utilization of care by underserved families, especially those in the Latino immigrant population.
— Dipali Pathak
Reem Sabouni, 25, president of her UTHealth Medical School class, was thrilled to match to her No. 1 choice: UTHealth/Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, where she will spend the next four years as an obstetrics and gynecology resident.
The daughter and sister of architects, she graduated from Elkins High School in Sugar Land and then attended Rice University.
“One of the reasons I chose OBGYN is that I want to empower women,” Sabouni said. “I am ecstatic beyond belief and I’m looking forward to working with amazing people.”
She called the atmosphere of Match Day “magical,” adding, “It’s off the charts.”
--Deborah Mann Lake
Baylor College of Medicine class president Faheem Ahmed rips open the Match Board, revealing the envelopes that indicate where each medical student will go on to pursue their residency training.
Ahmed matched in ophthalmology and will complete his preliminary training year at Albert Einstein Medical Center and his residency at Wills Eye Institute, a part of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, both in Philadelphia.
— Dipali Pathak
Texas currently ranks 49th among states in the number of mental health providers per 100,000 population. Sabrina Browne, 27, wants to do her part to improve access to mental health services, especially for children.
She was thrilled to learn that she will be doing her psychiatry residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
Born in Jamaica, she grew up in Fort Worth and earned a degree in psychology from Boston University, becoming the first doctor in her family. Clinical rotations at The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatry Center, which she describes as a unique asset to UTHealth and the community, confirmed that psychiatry was her true calling and she is ready for the next step.
“I love the program and city. I can’t wait to start my next chapter in such a great program.”
– Meredith Raine