UTHealth Medical School seniors meet their match

Students learn during Match Day where they will train as residents

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UTHealth Medical School seniors celebrate as they meet their matches at the National Match Day event.

2013 Graduating Class Specialty Choices
Internal medicine 35
Anesthesiology 28
Emergency Medicine 19
Pediatrics 19
Family Medicine 16
Deferred 14
Diagnostic Radiology 13
Psychiatry 11
Obstetrics/Gynecology 10
Surgery-Preliminary 10
Orthopaedic Surgery 9
Surgery (General) 7
Urology 7
Otolaryngology 6
Dermatology 5
Neurology 5
Ophthalmology 5
Neurological Surgery 3
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery 3
Pathology 3
Pediatric Neurology 2
Internal Medicine-Pediatrics 1
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 1
Plastic Surgery 1
Radiation Oncology 1
Total Number of Students: 234

HOUSTON – (March 15, 2013) – With four years of medical school almost behind them, 234 excited students at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School found out today where they will begin the next phase of their medical training.

Known as Match Day, the event occurs simultaneously at medical schools across the country as students discover their destination for residency training. At UTHealth, 47 percent of students will stay in Texas for at least the first year of their post-graduate training. Almost 20 percent will stay right here at UTHealth.

One by one, students were randomly called to retrieve a white envelope with their name on it. Once everyone had an envelope in hand, students were given the cue to open their envelopes. Surrounded by friends and family, students in this close-knit Class of 2013 learned together the programs to which they’ve matched.

Match Day is the culmination of a complex process that matches graduating medical students with residency programs through the National Resident Matching Program. Every year, approximately 16,000 U.S. medical students and another 20,000 independent applicants compete for approximately 26,000 available residency slots.

“This is such a unique class of individuals with diverse talents, compassion and a willingness to lend a helping hand. We’ve all helped one another to become better doctors, and now we finally are fulfilling our dreams,” said Class President Reem Sabouni, 25, who will do her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at UTHealth, her top choice. “Match Day is magical…all the excitement in the air. It’s off the charts.”

Here are stories from some of the UTHealth students who participated in this year’s match:

Aldo Andino and fiancée Meredith Molloy

Aldo Andino and fiancée
Meredith Molloy

For Aldo Andino, the UTHealth Medical School is an important part of his family’s history in Houston. It is where his father, an immigrant from Honduras, did his residency training in family medicine. It is where Andino has spent almost four years pursuing his dream. And on Friday, as he stood with his father, mother and fiancé on the plaza outside the Medical School, it is where he learned that he will train as an emergency medicine physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. “Emergency medicine is what I love. You can be useful to anyone at any time of the day. You can help people of all ages – many of whom have nowhere else they can go,” said Andino, age 26. Before medical school, he considered a career in psychology and pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Houston. It was a book by Viktor Frankl that prompted him to become a physician. “My Dad was in residency when I was a child. He told me, ‘It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough.’ It is tough, but it’s worth it,” Andino said. Upon completing his residency training in emergency medicine, Andino says, his hope is to keep a foothold in academic medicine and the county health system so he can provide health care to the underserved.

Nate Avila and family

Nate Avila and family

Nathaniel “Nate” Avila’s path to becoming a physician began in a poor Houston neighborhood. One of 10 children, he grew up with a true understanding of what it means to be an “underserved” patient with limited access to health care. Cancer claimed the lives of his father and one of his brothers. “My brother was sick and he didn’t have insurance. He just thought it was food poisoning,” Avila said. “He was only 33 when he died.” Seeking to break the cycle of poverty, Avila leveraged his skills on the tennis court to earn a scholarship to The University of Texas at San Antonio. He thought he might become a tennis pro, but after meeting his future father-in-law, a gastroenterologist, he changed course. Instead of serving on the tennis court, he would serve those who are uninsured and desperately in need of medical care. “Tennis is a skill, and you always have to work at it. Being a physician is very similar,” he said. “You have to master it, concentrate.” On Friday, Avila’s family was with him when he learned that he will do his internal medicine residency at UTHealth.  “My son ate my letter,” Avila said of his 7-month-old son. “I’m staying home. I feel so great, appreciative and thankful. I get to stay in Houston with my family and that’s the most important thing.”

Kara Beatty

Kara Beatty

On June 19, 2002, Kara Beatty’s life changed in an instant. The freshman at Texas A&M University was in her car when a truck driver ran a red light. Beatty suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), collapsed lung and broken pelvis in the accident. When she awoke from a four-day coma, she was told she may never walk again. She had no short-term memory and the bright young college student could now only read at a fourth-grade level. She didn’t know it then, but the accident and her rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann would influence her career path. “I don’t actually remember this because my memory was still impaired, but my mom says I was looking at the patient pictures on the wall at TIRR, and I told her that I was going to be a doctor someday,” said Beatty, now 29. Today, Beatty celebrated with her family when she learned that she will do her psychiatry residency at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ultimately, she hopes to specialize in neuropsychiatry so that she can help others with brain injuries. “You can overcome tremendous challenges,” she said. “I am proof of that. Traumatic as it was, this accident has shaped my life into something profoundly positive.”

Anthony Burton

Anthony Burton

Anthony Burton knew early on that he wanted to become a doctor.  “My parents encouraged my two brothers and me to volunteer, to serve our community.”  In high school, he chose the Academy of Biomedical Professions, where he learned about disease processes, became an emergency medical technician and did clinical rotations.   This valuable experience and a close relationship with his older brother – who is also a doctor – led him on the path to becoming a primary care physician. “It’s a moral obligation, really,” says Burton, age 26.  “There is a great shortage of primary care physicians, and I like the continuity of care.  I like the idea of building a relationship with the whole family, because often the family dynamics also play a part in the treatment of the patient.”  Over the last several years, Burton has participated in medical missions in Honduras and Kenya. An interest in global health also motivated him to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at UTHealth’s School of Public Health.  “Why just treat individual patients when you can help the masses by developing policy changes, learn the cause and effect of diseases and be an advocate for health care change?” Burton said.  Burton will do his family medicine residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. “It was my number one choice,” he said. “I feel great, very blessed. This match will allow me to work with a really great program.” After completing his residency, he said, he would like to continue practicing medicine in Texas and have the opportunity to teach. “The faculty here is amazing.  So I want to be able to give back and encourage and mentor students with an interest in primary care.”

Sabrina Brown

Sabrina Browne

Texas currently ranks 49th in the number of mental health providers per 100,000 population. Sabrina Browne, 27, wants to do her part to improve access to mental health services, especially for children. “There is definitely a need for more mental health providers, and I hope to practice in Texas after my psychiatry residency,” she said. Browne is the first in her family to become a physician. Born in Jamaica, she grew up in Fort Worth and earned a degree in psychology from Boston University. “I decided to go to medical school so I could broaden what I would be able to offer my patients,” she said. “This is an exciting time to go into psychiatry. Mental health is really coming to the forefront. There is so much research and so much more we are learning about the brain and mental health.” Clinical rotations at The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatry Center - which she described as a unique asset to UTHealth and the community – confirmed that psychiatry was her true calling. “I loved it. From the first day working with patients, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” On Friday, Browne learned that she will do her psychiatry residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “This was my top choice so I’ll be closer to family. I love the program and city. I can’t wait to start my next chapter in such a great program,” she said.

@UTHealth live-tweeted from the @UTMedSchool Match Day ceremony. To see pictures and updates from the event, visit the UTHealth Storify page.

To see additional photos from Match Day, visit our Flickr page.

Meredith Raine
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030