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5.10.2012

Class of 2012 Can Celebrate Match Day Successes at Commencement

After striding across the stage to pick up their M.D. degrees at the BankUnited Center on May 12, members of the Class of 2012 will head to some of the most competitive residency programs and prestigious institutions in the country. The class could, in fact, take a collective bow for their notable Match Day success, which created a buzz among underclassmen and is sure to be a great recruiting tool for prospective students.

“These kids are really terrific,” said Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy. “They hit it out of the ballpark. What that says is if you’re bright enough and work hard, you can go anywhere.”

Not only are dozens of class members heading to top-tier institutions for their residency training — including Harvard-affiliated Brigham & Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University Medical Center, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Georgetown University Hospital, and Baylor University Medical Center — but four snagged spots in both plastic surgery and dermatology programs, and seven made the cut in orthopaedic surgery programs, all extremely competitive specialties.

“That’s really impressive,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education. “There are very few plastic surgery programs in the country, so to get four matched in that field alone is really noteworthy. But even for less competitive residencies, the institutions our students are going to are extraordinary.”

In all, 177 Miller School students were among 15,712 graduating medical students who matched to first-year training programs at teaching hospitals in the annual match process, the results of which were unveiled March 16 in nail-biting envelope-opening ceremonies held on medical campuses across the nation. Nervous Miller School seniors who gathered under a white tent on the Schoninger Research Quadrangle to learn where they’ll spend the next three to seven years and, as Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., noted, possibly their careers, were soon whooping with glee, or crying tears of joy, and for good reason.

Nearly 90 percent are heading to one of their top three choices, and a third of the students who matched in internal medicine or pediatrics residency programs are destined for one of the nation’s top programs for that specialty, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Though many graduating seniors are likely to specialize, 42 percent are pursuing primary care residencies, with 37 students matched to internal medicine residencies and 16 students each matched to pediatric and OB/GYN training programs, an uptick from last year, when a dozen headed to OB/GYN programs and nine to pediatric programs.

Dean Goldschmidt joined students in attributing the increases, as well as another notable Match Day, to the wealth of inspirational faculty mentors and clinical experiences students encounter at Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami Hospital and the Miami VA.

“I can honestly say my great match was, at the end of the day, due more than anything to all the mentorship that I’ve had at UM and the strong clinical experience and exposure that we’ve received here,” said Anna Cristy Juncadella, the fourth Miller School student in as many years to be tapped for Massachusetts General Hospital’s vaunted Internal Medicine residency program. “I really don’t feel like I’m at any disadvantage compared to anyone coming out of any Ivy League school. I think what I’ve learned, what I’ve been exposed to and the mentors I’ve had are comparable to anywhere in the country.”

Juncadella specifically credits Caio Max S. Rocha Lima, M.D., a gastrointestinal oncologist and professor of clinical medicine whom she began shadowing as an undergraduate, and Amar Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine who specializes in gastroenterology, for her leanings toward that specialty. “They are role models not only in their careers, and what they bring to the table education-wise and medicine-wise, but they instill their passion in all of us,” she said.

Also on the upswing is the number of graduating seniors, 21.5 percent of the class, who will remain in Miami to pursue residencies at Jackson, an indication that, despite its financial struggles, the public institution remains one of the nation’s most attractive training grounds. Juliet Nissan, who matched to a general surgery residency at Jackson, said the one-on-one relationships she already forged with a number of Miller School mentors, particularly Carl I. Schulman, M.D., MSPH, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery and associate director of the Surgical Residency Training Program, made Jackson her No. 1 choice.

“I considered dozens of programs across the entire country, but ultimately I chose to stay here because of the people,” Nissan said. “From my perspective, surgery is really unique because, unlike a lot of medicine you can learn from a book, you need someone to physically show you where to put your hands and how to hold the instruments. And that one-on-one interaction has to be with someone you trust and who respects you and I knew if I stayed here I’d have that. Maybe I could form those relationships elsewhere, but I knew I couldn’t top them.”

Neither, Nissan added, could other surgical residency programs top Jackson’s variety of patients and range of services, from trauma to burns to pediatrics. “Ultimately, I think people choose to stay at Jackson for the same reason they’re attracted to the Miller School – because they have such a wide range of patients that gives you the kind of training not really comparable anywhere else,” she said.

That’s certainly what drew Chad Parvus here, and why the second-year student knew before the first senior tore open the first envelope that the Class of 2012 would wow underclassmen with their Match Day results. “I think the school has a reputation for providing great clinical experiences and preparing its students well, so it was no surprise great programs snatched them up,” he said.

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