Medical students meet their match


Last fall, Rockford medical student Mina Tanaka was practicing medicine on a Native American reservation in northern California.

This fall, she’ll be somewhere entirely different: Massachusetts General in Boston.

“Having that experience working in a rural setting, I think I will bring something different to the residency program,” said Tanaka, who will be a resident in internal medicine at Mass General. She hopes to practice medicine in a rural setting and work on rural health policies and research.

“I wanted to go to an academic center for residency where there’s more support for research and policy work,” she said. “When I got to Mass General, that kind of energy was really palpable.”

Tanaka was among students from the UIC College of Medicine in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana who celebrated their residency placements March 20 on Match Day. More than 17,000 students at medical schools nationwide were matched to residencies this year through the National Resident Matching Program.

Nian Verzosa

Peoria medical student Nian Verzosa opens her Match Day results: anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical School.

“Match Day was a highly anticipated culmination of our hard work and efforts during medical school and also marked a life-changing transition to the next step of our training,” said Angela Kao, a Peoria medical student who will train in surgery at Carolinas Medical Center. “The idea of opening an envelope that tells you your future was a little stressful, but I suppose it wouldn’t be medical school if it wasn’t.”

Members of UIC’s College of Medicine Class of 2015 in Chicago celebrated after learning that all 181 students had found a match.

Of Chicago campus students, 39 percent will stay in Illinois for their residency programs, with the rest heading to medical centers in 28 states. The top specialties are internal medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and anesthesiology. The top five hospital placements are UIC, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin, Stanford and Loyola.

Jessica Kuppy is excited to train in internal medicine at UIC. She celebrated with her sister, Joanna, a 2005 UIC College of Medicine graduate now in critical care pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center.

“I like the idea of giving back and I feel like you stay really challenged as a doctor,” Kuppy said. “I like solving puzzles, and being a doctor allows you do that all day.”

Twenty-six students at the Urbana-Champaign campus received their placements on Match Day, with nearly half staying in the Midwest to train for their residency programs. Top specialties include internal medicine, emergency medicine and neurology.

Urbana medical student Omotola Ashorobi was excited about her match: urology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“I accomplished my goal — I was matched at my top choice and I was thrilled,” she said.

Sixteen of the 50 Peoria students who matched will train in Illinois, with half staying in the Midwest. Their top residency specialties are internal medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine-pediatrics.

Peoria student Mohammed Admani said his hard work seemed worthwhile when he opened his match: internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“It really could not have gone better for me,” he said. “I am beyond excited for what the next four years will bring.”

David Gordon

Rockford student David Gordon celebrates after learning his match: emergency medicine at University of Maryland Medical Center.

Of the 44 Rockford students who matched, 20 percent will stay in Illinois and more than half in the Midwest. Nearly 60 percent matched in primary care specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.

Chicago student Alejandra Cano, who matched in emergency medicine, is thrilled to stay at UIC.

“All of my mentors here have really been absolutely phenomenal,” she said.

Cano combined rigorous coursework with the responsibilities of being a single parent to Evan, 14, and Rosie, 11.

“It taught me time management and perseverance,” she said.

Adam Gruner and Lindsay Schwartz are getting married Memorial Day weekend and wanted to match in the same city.

“We opened each other’s envelopes so when I saw UCLA, I didn’t know if we had the same match,” Schwartz said.

She did. They’ll train together in Los Angeles, Schwartz in pediatrics and Gruner in emergency medicine.

David Lewandoski was happy to match at one of his top choices, University of Wisconsin Madison. His father, Doug Lewandowski, is director of UIC’s Center for Cardiovascular Research.

“I’ve been on the faculty since David was in sixth grade, and I didn’t think I’d be sitting at Match Day in 2015,” said Lewandowski, professor of physiology and biophysics. “I’m proud of him.”

Tanaka expects her residency training to be “intense.”

“We really have to take ownership of our patients now — their lives are in our hands. So that’s scary, but it’s also an exciting time.”

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