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March 18, 2016 - USA Senior Medical Students Celebrate Residencies at Match Day 2016

2016MatchDay0321.jpgSenior medical students at the University of South Alabama gathered March 18 at the Mobile Convention Center to find out this year’s Match Day results and the next step in their medical training.

The National Residency Matching Program, or Match Day, is the annual event in which future doctors across the United States and Canada learn where they will be doing their residency training. The graduating medical students across North America simultaneously opened their envelopes with their assigned matches at 11 a.m. CST.

After interviewing with several different residency programs across the country, students rank their top-choice programs in order of preference. Training programs also rank the students who interviewed. The NRMP then uses a mathematical algorithm to designate each applicant into a residency program. Each year, thousands of medical school seniors compete for approximately 24,000 residency positions across the United States.

“Match Day is an important day for each graduating medical student,” said Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean of medical education and student affairs at USA. “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 73 USA College of Medicine seniors matched in 18 different states, with 53 students matching out-of-state and 20 students matching in the state of Alabama. Fourteen of those students matching in Alabama matched at USA Hospitals.

One fourth-year medical student at USA, Preston Warren, has a unique background. Warren, a native of Mobile, Ala., and a graduate of Davidson High School, earned his bachelor’s degree in graphic design and a doctor of physical therapy degree from USA.

Warren dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine, but he did not have the financial resources to allow for it at the time. “I often laughingly tell people that I’ll retire as a student, which in some respect will be true since a good clinician will always be a student,” Warren said.

Ultimately, Warren was able to go to medical school. He will be the first physician in his family. He describes Match Day as an exciting and emotional milestone of his academic journey.

Warren matched in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Beyond the initial excitement, the first thought that came to Warren was “I am going to have to become accustomed to real winter weather.”

He is most excited to have the opportunity to work alongside leaders in the field and be able to learn from them on a daily basis. He says he plans to use his background in physical therapy as a foundation for future training.

Katie Richards, another fourth-year medical student, uses a sports analogy to describe Match Day. “I actually joked with my family that Match Day is like the NFL Draft for a bunch of medical students,” she said. “This day is the result of many years of sacrifice and hard work. It is incredibly exciting to see where all of our careers are taking us in the next big step of our training."

Originally from Huntsville, Ala, Richards earned her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from Auburn University. Since high school, Richards’ academic interests have been centered on math and science. Once she realized her interests could be used to help others, she could not imagine herself pursuing another career.

“Medicine is such a unique profession where hard science is perfectly complimented by softer social skills,” Richards said. “It’s a beautiful blend that keeps me looking forward to coming to work every day."

Richards matched in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Baylor was my first choice,” Richards explained. She feels confident USA has prepared her for the next steps in her career. “Our faculty really views student success as their own success, so it’s hard to imagine learning in a more supportive environment,” she added. Richards is looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities she will face during her residency training.

Fourth-year medical student Elizabeth Swartout is following in her mother’s footsteps. As a child, Swartout was introduced to health care while watching her mother go through the process of medical school. Because her mother was a special education teacher for 15 years before deciding to go to medical school, Swartout was old enough to watch and understand the process.

Swartout credits her mother for her interest in medicine. “Sometimes, bedtime stories were a case report. She got to study and spend time with us,” Swartout recalled. “After reading about any young woman of childbearing age, mom would ask, ‘okay girls, what do we do next?’ and my sister and I would announce ‘Pregnancy test!’”

Match Day holds a very important place in Swartout’s heart. Her husband is in the Air Force and has been absent for most of her medical school journey. “Match Day means finding out where we are going to build our first home together,” Swartout said. “It’s an extremely exciting time both personally and professionally.”

Swartout matched in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. She is looking forward to continuing to gain confidence and knowledge about patient care during her residency training. “I strive to be a resource for patients, and residency will help me achieve that goal,” Swartout said.

Lindsey Stewart, another fourth-year medical student, is the youngest of four children and will be the first physician in her family. Originally from Pascagoula, Miss., Stewart earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from USA before pursing medical school.

Stewart said she realized at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. “Since I was very young, I have told my family - and anyone who would listen - that I wanted to be a doctor,” Stewart said. “This profession stood out to me because of the combination of science, problem-solving and helping others.”

Stewart decided to only apply for psychiatry residency programs, a field she is deeply passionate about. “There is a cloud of shame surrounding the diagnosis of mental illness,” Stewart said. “I found myself sympathizing with people who suffer with mental health issues because they often do not receive necessary treatment due to their disease not being equally respected in society.”

Stewart believes she is ready for residency training. “USA has prepared me for the next phase in my training by offering excellent one-on-one opportunities and giving us the clinical skills that we need to be a successful physician.”

Stewart’s dedication paid off and she matched in psychiatry at USA. “I am so excited. USA was my first choice,” Stewart said. “After my residency I plan to do a child and adolescence psychiatry fellowship and ultimately work on the Gulf Coast.”

Ryan Dewitz, fourth-year medical student and a native of Huntsville, Ala., also will be the first physician in his family. “My mom is a nurse, and hearing her talk about the patients she took care of and the cool things she got to do at work interested me,” Dewitz said.

Dewitz said Match Day is more exciting than graduation day. “For me it is the day that marks the culmination of four years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice during medical school,” Dewitz explained. “Our first three years of medical school we spend countless hours studying and learning as much as we can about all disciplines in medicine. Our fourth year of medical school is spent researching, applying and interviewing with various residency training programs. Match Day is the day when I will learn where I will continue my medical training for the next several years of my life."

Dewitz said he went into medical school with an open mind, hoping to get experience in all fields before deciding which one to pursue. Dewitz matched in orthopaedic surgery at LSU. “I am excited to take on more responsibility in terms of patient care,” Dewitz said.

Mobile, Ala., native and senior medical student Brandon Finnorn describes a career in the medical field as a “natural fit.” Finnorn earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Louisiana State University before pursuing medical school at USA.

Finnorn said his parents instilled the importance of serving others at an early age. As a child, Finnorn remembers participating in several service projects in the community. “My mother was a special education teacher,” Finnorn said. “I remember multiple times helping her former students move into different apartments or helping them receive new wheelchairs.”

“The willingness my parents had toward serving individuals in need set a great example for the type of person and physician I wanted to become,” Finnorn added. “A career in the medical field gives me the opportunity to continue learning the science of medicine and serve people in need of care.”

Match Day represents the start of a new journey for Finnorn because he is getting married later this year. “Not only does this match affect me, but my future wife and family,” Finnorn said. “The program I match with will affect the beginning of our new life together.”

Finnorn said his experience at USA will aid him tremendously during his residency. “My experiences taught me to be a more efficient and effective caregiver, while still maintaining the rapport and healthy relationships with my patients.  I will hopefully be able to build on this experience into my years as a resident.”

Finnorn matched in pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Pittsburgh is an ideal location for Finnorn and his future family. “My fiancé and I are ecstatic. She already lives and works in Pittsburgh, so it is the perfect fit!"

Finnorn said he chose pediatrics for many reasons. “Pediatrics allows me to be an early influence in the lives of young patients,” Finnorn said. “It gives me the opportunity to counsel and teach patients and help them meet their full potential.”

Click here or here to view more photos from the event. Click here for the Match Day video.

Click here for a complete list of Match Day results.

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