Meeting their match
Fifteen minutes before 11 a.m. on March 18, UIC medical students sat and waited to be handed their future in white envelopes.
“This is only the beginning of your journey,” Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs, told students as they sat on the edge of their seats alongside their friends and family on National Match Day, when students from 155 medical schools across the nation learned where they will complete their residencies.
“There will certainly be many challenges in front of you as you begin your residencies. My hope is that each of you will learn and grow from these challenges as your career unfolds in the years ahead.”
“We’re feeling nervous, scared and inspired,” said Megha Shankar, a student who participated in a flash mob during the ceremony with other seniors.
About 800 guests, including students, their families, alumni and administrators, counted down the final 10 seconds before envelopes were torn, hugs were shared and students yelled their congratulations across tables. The matching process is done by the National Resident Matching Program. This year, more than 34,000 students registered nationally to compete for 30,000 available residency positions; 176 of registered students were from UIC.
Pedro Alvarez lifted his hands and shouted in celebration after learning that he would complete his obstetrics and gynecology residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“I cried a little bit,” he said happily. “It’s going to be hard and challenging, but it’s going to be amazing.”
California is just one of 29 states that students from the Chicago campus will be headed to, including Hawaii, Florida and Washington.
Almost half of the class will stay in Illinois, and UIC is the No. 1 training facility for students from the Chicago campus.
Specializing in internal medicine and pediatrics, Ana Mauro said her match at UIC was a “dream come true.”
“It’s so surreal,” she said. “UIC was such an integral part of my education as a physician and I am ecstatic to be here and to
continue growing here.”
The top specialty for students at the Chicago campus was internal medicine. Other popular specialties included family medicine and pediatrics.
Fifty students from the Rockford campus matched to programs in 16 specialties and 20 states. Twenty-eight percent of the class will stay in Illinois. Family medicine and internal medicine were the most popular medical specialties.
A quarter of Peoria’s Class of 2016 was matched to residencies in Illinois. Forty-
nine students matched to 19 specialties at residency locations across 21 states. Top specialties for student matches were internal medicine, anesthesiology and radiology-diagnostic.
Twenty-nine graduating seniors from the Urbana-Champaign campus will complete their medical training in residency programs for 16 specialties — top areas included internal medicine, family medicine and neurology — in 16 states; seven students were matched in Illinois.
Darshana Bhattacharyya matched in family medicine/psychiatry.
“Up until today I didn’t know if I was going to be a psychiatrist or combined family med and psych,” she said as she wiped tears away. “It’s everything that I wanted in a program.”
She’ll complete her residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and she’ll do it alongside her husband, Shaun Harty, too.
“We couples matched,” said Harty who matched to the UC Medical Center’s emergency medicine residency program. Harty and Bhattacharyya met on the first day of medical school. They’ve been married two years.
“We wouldn’t be here without UIC and what we’ve learned,” Harty said.
Leaving UIC is “bittersweet,” Alvarez said.
“UIC is amazing,” he said. “They have the best support system and they really put their money where their mouth is. When they say they’re going to help you and support you, they actually do it. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Javett Orgain, a self-proclaimed “UIC lifer,” congratulated students and told them to remember their powerful roots.
“Whether you stay at UIC for residency or move away, remember that you will always, always, always be a vital part of our Illinois medicine community,” said Orgain, clinical assistant professor of family medicine, distinguished alumnus and member of the College of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Council.