Residency roads are revealed to graduating medical students

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By Lin Lofley

The gymnasium floor in the Bryan Williams, M.D. Student Center was packed on March 17 as fourth-year UT Southwestern Medical School students learned where they will train for the next step in their medical educations.

A total of 221 MS4s opened their envelopes at the same time as their peers across the country, leaving Commencement exercises as the only thing left on the to-do list before they are awarded their medical degrees.

Jean Shiao, a Plano native who earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, couldn’t stop smiling after finding that she will begin a residency in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“I’m going back and forth, and back and forth between here and Boston,” said Ms. Shiao, whose brother skipped Match Day at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio in order to be with all the family cheering for his sister. He learned his match with McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University via email while watching his sibling.

“I can tell you that I had an interest in Radiation Oncology, and I considered Pediatrics,” Ms. Shiao said, “but after my Internal Medicine rotation, I knew that that was it.”

Juan Sosa, who matched in Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, plans to devote his medical career to expanding access of mental health services to the underserved Spanish-speaking community.

“I really envision myself as a community psychiatrist for an underserved population,” Mr. Sosa said. “I want to use my assets to build a bridge between psychiatric care and the Hispanic community. I plan to be an advocate for them.”

Medical students at Match Day
Future surgeons Andres Guerra and Dania Malik visit with Dr. Kareem Abdelfattah, Assistant Professor of Surgery. Mr. Guerra, a Sugarland native who graduated from the University of Arizona, matched in vascular surgery at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Chicago. Ms. Malik, an Austin native and UT Austin alumna, matched in general surgery at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

The first of his family to graduate from college, Mr. Sosa spent his childhood in California and Central Mexico. When he was in middle school, his family moved to Texas. The UT Dallas grad said that the physicians who helped his ailing parents during his college years showed such empathy and dedication that it inspired him to study medicine.

“I was drawn to psychiatry because of the opportunity to get to know a patient on a deeper level,” Mr. Sosa said. “I’m a believer that a person’s story shapes who they are today. I want to help them reshape their future and their life path.”

Guarav Chattree matched in Neurology at Stanford University, and proclaimed himself “very happy. [Stanford] was my top choice.”

Mr. Chattree, who grew up in Keller and graduated from UT Austin, said a month’s visit in San Francisco proved inviting. “I really like the West Coast and the opportunities out there.”

Ren “Elizabeth” Zhang overcame a number of obstacles to simply make it to Match Day. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, who hails from South Pasadena, California, was on crutches after recently suffering a severe lower leg injury.

Seated in a chair procured for her, Ms. Zhang – who will graduate from the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and wind up a seven-year journey to both M.D. and doctorate degrees at UT Southwestern – said “it feels good to finally be within sight of the finish line.”

She did her doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Melanie Cobb, Professor of Pharmacology and Interim Director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and, after finishing her current rotation, she has a well-earned vacation planned with her husband, Josef Velten.

Medical students at Match Day
Student Nirja Mehta, who has received her Match Day letter, waves to well-wishers as Dr. Stephanie Brinker, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, continues to pass out envelopes to members of the Class of 2017. Ms. Mehta soon discovered that her residency will be at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Courtney Lane-Donovan, another MSTP candidate, has spent eight years at UT Southwestern. She celebrated with her husband, Adam, after matching in Neurology at University of California, San Francisco.

At UT Southwestern, Mrs. Lane-Donovan completed two years of Medical School education, then did four years of doctoral work in Alzheimer’s disease research in the lab of Dr. Joachim Herz, Professor of Molecular Genetics, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and of Neuroscience, before her clinical instruction.

“It’s a marathon, with a series of sprints,” she said of attaining both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. “It was too painful to choose [clinical care or research], so I got to do both. Now we’re off to UCSF, which is a fabulous program.”

She grew up in Highland Park and met husband Adam while both were MIT students. He worked in the tech industry while she was at UT Southwestern and took the upcoming move in stride. “We’ve got a couple of months to come up with a plan,” he said.

Celebrations in the Bryan Williams, M.D. Student Center began as soon as fourth-year UT Southwestern Medical School students opened their envelopes and discovered where they were going for their residencies.

Gina Aloisio, a Pediatrics match at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an MSTP candidate at UT Southwestern, said “I’m really excited and really happy.”

A Chillicothe, Ohio native who graduated from The Ohio State University, Ms. Aloisio completed her doctoral work in Cancer Biology at UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences before returning to Medical School for her final two years of instruction.

“It’s sad when you first leave your classmates,” she said. “And it’s hard two years later when they’re matching. But you make new friends when you come back to Medical School, and finally matching is so exciting.”

Also exciting, she said, is the prospect of living for at least three years in Boston. “It was just getting cold when I visited,” she said, “but I was taken aback by the history that is all around you in that city.”

Medical students at Match Day
Lorel Riley Huelsmann (left) and Nia Stallworth celebrate their pediatrics matches. Ms. Huelsmann, a St. Louis native, will serve her residency at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, while Ms. Stallworth, who grew up in Houston, matched at UC San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland.

It was a good day for UT Southwestern, which is celebrating the newest rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Those rankings put UT Southwestern in the Top 10 in Primary Care and Top 25 in the country in research – one of only eight schools in the nation to achieve that level of ranking in each category, and one of about a dozen ranked in the top 25 in both categories.

“Match Day is the most exciting and emotional day of the year,” said Dr. Angela Mihalic, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. “I’m very proud of the accomplishments of the Class of 2017 and I look forward to seeing the great advancements they will one day make in medicine, and to hearing about the countless lives that they will touch throughout their careers.”

Dr. Blake Barker, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, enjoyed his first Match Day as an Associate Dean for Student Affairs, celebrating with students and families after handing out envelopes to students.

“I’m in a new role, with a different perspective, but I find Match Day is always invigorating,” Dr. Barker said. “I’ve seen at least seven of these over the years, and Match Day never fails to make the hair stand up on my neck.

“We do it the right way here, in my opinion, because the whole student body comes together for these fourth-year students, many of whom I believe will become rock stars in our profession.”

The Medical School Class of 2017 placed 51 soon-to-be grads in Internal Medicine programs around the country, 10 of whom will continue their training in the Medical District.


Dr. Cobb holds the Jane and Bill Browning, Jr. Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Herz holds the Thomas O. and Cinda Hicks Family Distinguished Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research.