St. Patrick’s Day festivities are among the annual rites of spring celebrated across the country. But for thousands of U.S. medical students, Friday, March 17, was not about shamrocks and green beer; it was about finding out where they’ll spend the next three to seven years in residency programs they’ve been “matched” with. At UCI, 100 future physicians learned where they’ll start their careers after earning their M.D.s in May. All pandemic restrictions for in-person attendance were eliminated this year, allowing the class of 2023 to invite friends and family to share the Match Day experience.
Of the 100 who matched, 73 are staying in California, with 36 of them remaining in the University of California system. The most popular specialty was internal medicine (15 students), followed by psychiatry (13) and family medicine (11).
With most of their years of medical school overlapping the COVID-19 pandemic, these students overcame unique challenges and found creative ways to connect with each other and their mentors, driven by their desire to pursue a career dedicated to helping others through clinical practice, community engagement and research.
Meril Tomy (left) and fellow medical student Marihan Attiah congratulate each other after learning at UCI’s Match Day ceremony where they’ll serve their residencies. Steve Zylius / UCI
UCI School of Medicine students found out where they’ll spend their residencies in a Match Day ceremony Friday at UCI. They’ll receive their M.D.s in May. Steve Zylius / UCI
Med student Aileen Guillen celebrates with friends after reading out her match at the podium. Steve Zylius / UCI
Med students Anvesh Macherla, Will Jones (hidden), Austin Davis and Himakar Nagam congratulate fellow med student Jaspal Bassi (left) after he learned that he’ll be in an anesthesiology residency program at UCLA. Steve Zylius / UCI
Hinesh Patel (right) gets a congratulatory hug from his wife, Emma Bindloss, after finding out he’ll be going to Stanford University for a radiology and nuclear medicine residency. Steve Zylius / UCI
Dr. Carol Major congratulates med student David Bustillo, whom she delivered 31 years earlier. Steve Zylius / UCI
Gilbert Nalula celebrates after learning he’ll be going to Harbor-UCLA for a residency in emergency medicine. Steve Zylius / UCI
Mom Laurie Rasmussen, sister Karen Rasmussen and friend Gamal Prather (from left) congratulate UCI med student Anna Rasmussen (far left, facing away from the camera) at Friday’s ceremony. Steve Zylius / UCI
UCI med student Irene Masini celebrates at the podium. She’ll be going to Cedars-Sinai for OB-GYN. Steve Zylius / UCI
Celine Phong and Timothy Wiher are all smiles after reading their matches. He’ll be going to Long Beach Memorial; she’ll be at UCI. Steve Zylius / UCI
Ify Okwuosa (right) gets a congratulatory hug from Dr. Carol Major at Friday’s Match Day ceremony. She’ll be going into internal medicine at UCLA. Steve Zylius / UCI
Megan Keys celebrates with husband R.C. Wright after finding out she’ll be going to UC San Diego for emergency medicine. Steve Zylius / UCI
Here are three of their stories.
Increasing mental health equity
Kate Boudreau’s personal experiences both piqued her interest in psychiatry and heightened her frustration with accessing care. She wants to help further reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders and to increase mental health equity through clinical and public health work.
The opportunity to practice that combination is the reason Boudreau chose UCI for medical school when all her prior education had been in Connecticut. She is one of the students participating in the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community, a five-year M.D./master’s track that includes coursework emphasizing leadership, advocacy and service to meet the needs of under-resourced Latino communities.
“I was exposed to psychiatric pathology long before medical school. Throughout my life, I’ve supported many family members and friends through mental health struggles. I’ve felt the impact of the stigma firsthand as my family struggled within the walls of our home but spoke nothing of it beyond them. I know how difficult it is to get treatment even in the most optimal circumstances,” Boudreau says.
Her PRIME-LC training includes in-depth discussions about health equity, cultural humility and social determinants of health, as well as working in predominantly Spanish-speaking clinics and frequently collaborating with patients and community partners to address health disparities.
Boudreau will apply that experience to her residency program as she strives to transform the negative attitudes that lead to fear of those suffering from a mental health condition and insufficient funding for research and treatment.
“PRIME-LC trains us from the ground up to be fearless providers and advocates for under-resourced and marginalized populations,” she says. “Patients with a psychiatric disorder often feel compounded shame related to issues such as homelessness, involvement in the legal system, drug use, and gender or sexual identity. Through advocacy, we are moving forward. Perceptions and conditions have begun to change, and I hope to contribute to that momentum as we work to remove the stigma, improve mental health equity and increase access to care.”
Boudreau will be joining the psychiatry residency program at State University of New York Downstate.
Tech in medicine
Hinesh Patel’s 10-year journey to earning a dual M.D./Ph.D. in UCI’s Medical Scientist Training Program – one that typically takes eight – included a nine-month, around-the-world backpacking trip; an eight-month medical leave after suffering a spinal cord injury; and the creative use of technology to complete his degrees.
“I was able to pursue my lifelong dream of traveling the globe after my first two years of medical school,” Patel says. “After I returned, I was only a year into my Ph.D. program working across two biomedical engineering labs when the life-changing injury occurred. Returning to lab after eight months of recovery, I had to reinvent how I would perform experiments, reevaluate the path to achieving my goals and redefine myself to myself.”
A big part of that reinvention involved technology, something that Patel says is a passion of his and a large part of why he chose UCI for medical school. Another reason is that he’d spent most of his childhood in Irvine but for the past few years had been at UC Berkeley for his bachelor’s degree, in South Africa on a National Institutes of Health fellowship and in London on a Whitaker Fellowship, and he was excited to come home and be near his family.
The School of Medicine’s “embrace of technology and innovation – particularly the use of iPads and handheld ultrasound devices by every student – demonstrated to me that it understands the growing role tech plays in the future of medicine,” Patel says. “During my first two years of medical school, I was involved in early discussions of trialing Google Glass in the curriculum, and I also helped launch a tech-in-medicine elective.”
He put his interest in technology and innovation to good use at the Makerspace in the Cove at UCI Beall Applied Innovation, where he employed 3D printers to create tools that enabled him to complete experiments from his wheelchair. While earning his Ph.D., Patel also worked on a patent and a project to help monitor and improve the breeding of agricultural crops that received a National Science Foundation innovation grant.
“As I near graduation, I’m looking to pursue residency training in diagnostic radiology,” he says. “I hope to build a career in academic medicine, balancing clinical responsibilities with molecular imaging research, precision health and medical applications of artificial intelligence.”
Patel will be joining the diagnostic radiology-nuclear medicine residency program at Stanford University.
‘A complete mission fit’
Anna Rasmussen always knew she wanted to take a holistic approach to the practice of medicine – not as a replacement for conventional treatment options, but to connect with her patients beyond just their physical health and partner with them in achieving optimal wellness.
She found the ideal fit at UCI in the Health Education to Advance Leaders in Integrative Medicine program, a four-year longitudinal track informed by evidence that trains physicians to be leaders in bringing effective, compassionate, whole-person care to patients in whatever specialty they choose.
“HEAL-IM was a complete mission fit for me,” says Rasmussen, who’s from L.A. “My path to medicine was anything but straight and included personal study in many of the modalities HEAL-IM exposed us to.” She began pursuing a medical degree in her mid-20s after working for several years in the legal department at Google and as a yoga teacher in her off hours.
“Learning about the mind-body connection and sharing that connection with others meant far more to me than the work I did at my desk,” Rasmussen says. “I knew I needed to make health my career.”
HEAL-IM gave her the opportunity to formally train in the principles, philosophies and evidence-based practices of integrative medicine alongside traditional medical classes. Outside the program, she shared her passion for integrative medicine with others, starting a regular group called “Meditation Mondays” where her fellow students could come together to mindfully de-stress and also teaching yoga to the broader UCI community at the Anteater Recreation Center.
“I decided to pursue a career in family medicine for a few reasons,” Rasmussen says. “I found early mentors in the specialty through the HEAL-IM program and saw firsthand how they were able to incorporate lifestyle medicine and behavioral health into their primary care practices. I also admired how family medicine physicians worked to make practical, integrative medicine available to underserved populations, rather than just privileged elites. My experience at HEAL-IM enables me to start becoming the kind of holistic physician I want to be immediately out of medical school.”
She will be joining the family medicine residency program at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado.
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