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On March 21, 2014, after much anticipation, senior medical students at the University of South Alabama gathered at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile to find out this year’s Match Day results.
The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), or Match Day, is the annual event in which future doctors across the United States and Canada simultaneously learn where they will be doing their residency training.
“Match Day is an important day for each graduating medical student,” said Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean of medical education and student affairs. “This year, as in the past, we are extremely proud of our students’ successes in securing excellent residency positions. Their success reflects years of hard work on their part and also speaks to the quality of the educational training provided to them here in the USA College of Medicine.”
The Match works like this: after interviewing with several different residency programs - both near and far - students provide a ranking of their top-choice programs in order of preference. The training programs, in turn, rank the students who interviewed. The NRMP matches applicants’ preferences for residency positions with program directors’ preferences for applicants. Each year, thousands of medical school seniors compete for approximately 24,000 residency positions across the United States.
A native of Huntsville, Ala., USA senior medical student Davida Yarbrough credits her mother for her interest in science. “My mom encouraged me to explore all aspects of science,” she said. “Growing up in ‘Rocket City,’ I originally wanted to be an astronaut. However, she had me read Think Big by Ben Carson when I was 10 years old and that truly encouraged me to pursue a career as a physician.”
Throughout her medical school career, Yarbrough attributes her motivation to her faith and family. “I thank them for helping me stay focused,” she said.
Yarbrough said USA has provided her a solid foundation in clinical knowledge. “In addition, my experiences with very compassionate doctors who have been exemplary models of great patient care will carry over into my practice.”
Yarbrough matched in family medicine at USA. “I’m excited to train here with really great people,” she said. “I'm looking forward to being able to teach and impact students the way I was impacted by several residents during my training.”
Ben Cason, another fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, is a first-generation physician.
Originally from Montgomery, Ala., Cason completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn University where he received a bachelor’s degree in building construction. He went on to complete his pre-med curriculum at Auburn University at Montgomery before starting medical school at USA.
Cason’s interest in medicine has a unique origin. “My interest began with my experiences at the fire department,” he said. As a volunteer firefighter, Cason was able to respond to a variety of medical emergencies and traumas while at Auburn.
He later rose to the rank of captain, which enabled him to be responsible for managing multiple tasks taking place on the same scene. Cash said these experiences prepared him for the leadership responsibilities in medical school, as well as the responsibilities that will be expected of him as a physician.
To traverse the challenges he faced throughout medical school, Cason leaned to his Christian faith and his belief that medicine was his calling. “I have seen His hand in every step I've taken to get here.”
Cason matched in general surgery at USA. “USA is where I wanted to stay from the beginning,” he said. “It is a privilege to stay at this great, established program. I look forward to working with the attending physicians and continuing to learn from those I’ve already built relationships with.”
“I believe that the training provided here is second to none,” Cason added. “The camaraderie among the residents is stronger than any other program at which I interviewed and the faculty takes genuine interest in the well-being of the residents.”
A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., senior medical student Ellen Mitchell matched in plastic surgery – one of the most competitive residency specialties – at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. “I could not be more excited,” she said. “It’s an honor to be the second student in USA’s history to match in plastic surgery. Mitchell was one of 120 seniors in the country that matched in plastic surgery.
The NRMP also allows couples to form pairs of choices on their primary rank order lists. The couple will match to the most preferred pair of programs on the rank order lists where each partner has been offered a position.
USA medical students Mary and James Towner met in their first days of medical school. “We met, of all places, in gross anatomy during the first semester as freshmen,” James said. The couple cultivated a strong friendship as study partners. “He finally asked me out on a date the last day of our first semester,” Mary said. The couple got engaged during their third year of medical school and recently married in January 2014.
“During the first two years of medical school, it was sometimes hard. As a new medical student, we did not see patients, so it was important to remind myself why I was spending so much time studying,” Mary said. “My husband, James, was my greatest supporter. He knew exactly what I was going through and would listen to me vent in the hard times and celebrate with me when things went well.”
Mary matched in obstetrics and gynecology and James matched in neurosurgery at the University of Rochester/Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.
Mary said having her partner in medical school with her has been a great experience. “He understands the ups and downs of medical school and was incredibly supportive of me,” Mary said, “so it made everything a little easier.”
Both Mary and James said they could not be happier with their time at USA. “The opportunities to take part in patient care as a medical student at USA are second to none,” James said. “Having patients that allow us to participate so fully in their evaluation and treatment is a unique gift.”
Click here to view more photos from the event. For the complete list of Match Day results, click here.
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