Medical and Pharmacy Students Celebrate Match Day
The annual event – held online due the COVID-19 pandemic – marks a rite of passage for students as they start their careers after graduation.
On March 19, University of Arizona Health Sciences students at the College of Medicine – Tucson, College of Medicine – Phoenix and College of Pharmacy celebrated Match Day, laughing and cheering as they learned where they will launch their careers as resident physicians and pharmacists this summer.
Match Day, which annually occurs on the third Friday in March, caps off four years of intense study, volunteering, research, clerkships, sub-internships and clinical rotations for medical and pharmacy students. Over the past few months, added to the list was the daunting task of conducting multiple interviews – all of them virtual – with students' preferred institutions for their postgraduate training.
Separate ceremonies were held for students in the College of Medicine – Tucson and College of Medicine – Phoenix, where students tore open their match envelopes privately and then joined events that were livestreamed online to announce their picks.
Soon-to-be residents lauded for resiliency
In his comments to fourth-year students, College of Medicine – Tucson Dean Dr. Michael M.I. Abecassis underscored the effect of the pandemic on the class of 2021.
"On this day last year, we faced uncertainty and concern about an evolving pandemic. And this past year, we all experienced as a result a very different residency interview and selection process for you all. But today we face optimism, fueled by dropping rates of infection and rising rates of immunity," Abecassis said. "Let us all celebrate your resilience through this past year, which makes today even more special as we all wish you success in the road ahead."
Dr. Guy Reed, dean of the College of Medicine – Phoenix, noted: "In 2017, I met your amazing families, and I saw the deep optimism and commitment you will bring to your role as physicians, scientists and servants. All of you will continue your journey to distinction and service to our communities. Wherever you go, you'll carry the special things that you've learned here at the University of Arizona College of Medicine."
"This class has been especially impactful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as these students organized and participated in numerous volunteer efforts to help both patients and health care providers during these very difficult times," said Dr. Kevin Moynahan, College of Medicine – Tucson vice dean for education.
That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Lisa Shah-Patel, interim associate dean of student affairs at the College of Medicine – Phoenix.
"Not only are you servant leaders, as we all saw with many of you stepping up to help in the community during this past year of COVID-19, but you are all so motivated, compassionate and emphatic," she said. "You have experienced something no other class has. And through all of the unknowns, you've handled it with grace, resilience and poise."
Class of 2021 students matched at prestigious institutions including Johns Hopkins University; Yale University; Stanford University; University of California, San Francisco; Montefiore/Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Mount Sinai Medical Center; University of Michigan; University of Iowa; Wake Forest University; Mayo Clinic; and Cook County Health in Chicago.
Tucson student draws inspiration from family
Andrew Alix, from Irvine, California, matched to a psychiatry residency at the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. He is a recipient of a UArizona Health Sciences' Primary Care Physician Scholarship, which offers free tuition to medical students who commit to returning to Arizona to practice in a rural or underserved area after residencies.
Alix was inspired to pursue a medical degree due to family health issues. When his father suffered a stroke and could no longer work, Alix moved back home to help.
"I was struck by seeing him go through the whole recovery process after the stroke – learning how to walk again, how to talk, how to put on clothes, how to eat, how to drink – and beat it," he said. "While he still has some issues, seeing him get better was a really big inspiration for me."
Alix originally thought he might go into internal medicine, but a rotation last fall at the Behavioral Health Pavilion at Banner – UMC South in Tucson drew him to psychiatry.
"In psychiatry, you are expected to get to know your patient to build a strong therapeutic alliance," he said. "I find that more rewarding, personally, to have that kind of more deep, meaningful connection with that patient population. It takes a lot of building trust to break through."
Dermatology Perfect Fit for Phoenix Student
At the College of Medicine – Phoenix, Jenna Koblinksi, who will begin training as a dermatologist this summer, has always been drawn to medicine because of her desire to help people at their most vulnerable.
Her interest in dermatology came from a clinical rotation involving a congestive heart failure patient who also suffered from acne inversa, a dermatologic disease resulting in painful bumps under the skin. She was surprised the patient was more concerned with skin issues than breathing problems.
"I started shadowing the field and realized this was a specialty that combined the parts that I loved about medicine and surgery, while also allowing me to make a large impact on a patient," Koblinski said. "Plus, I have always been a visual learner, and the ability to see the patient's concerns with your own eyes or through a dermatoscope is also really unique!"
Pharmacy Student Looks Forward to Life of Purpose
Like many of her fellow fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy candidates, Aeryanna Beaudrie-Nunn, of Scottsdale, has spent the past two weeks anxiously awaiting the results of pharmacy Match Day. This year, Beaudrie-Nunn, along with 32 other students from the College of Pharmacy, found her perfect match – she'll be continuing her education through the Mayo Clinic Hospital Post-Graduate Year 1 Pharmacy Residency program.
"It is a dream come true," said Beaudrie-Nunn, who matched into the residency program on the Rochester, Minnesota, campus. "I applied to 16 competitive pharmacy residency programs and received invitations to interview from 11."
As part of the ASHP Resident Matching Program, applicants apply to programs they are interested in and then attend interviews. Before the pandemic, students would typically travel to attend each interview in person, crisscrossing the country throughout the months of January and February. Circumstances changed this year to accommodate COVID-19 precautions, with most interviews conducted via Zoom.
The college matched at a rate of 65.3% for post-graduate year 1 phase 1, once again matching at a higher rate than the national average. Students will be heading all across the country and Arizona, matching with programs based in California, New York, New Mexico and Texas.
"It is impossible to say exactly what inspired me to revere pharmacy as a career, but after considering what a life of purpose entails for me, I realized my desire to be a pharmacist was neither about salary, nor prestige," Beaudrie-Nunn said. "It's about applying my strengths and compassion for others, in collaboration with a dynamic health care community, to serve the best interest of patients."
A version of this article originally appeared on the Health Science Connect website: https://healthsciences.arizona.edu/connect/features/medical-and-pharmacy-students-celebrate-match-day.
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