March 21, 2014
By David Martin
More than half of the 2014 graduates of the University of Kansas School of Medicine will train to become primary care physicians, according to the results from Match Day, the annual event where medical students learn where they will complete their residencies.
Medical students at the Kansas City campus gathered in Battenfeld Auditorium for the 11 a.m. celebration. The students were joined by family, friends and faculty members who waited expectantly for the white envelopes to be distributed. The envelopes indicated where each student had been matched for his or her residency training, which lasts three to seven years, depending on the specialty.
A nonprofit organization, the National Resident Matching Program, uses a computer algorithm to determine the match. The match is based on preferences the applicants and residency programs submit after students have completed interviews at hospitals where they would like to train.
Internal medicine and family medicine are the two most popular specialties for the students at the Kansas City and Wichita campuses who matched. Along with pediatrics, internal medicine and family medicine are primary care specialties, which are considered crucial to an effective and efficient health care system. In all, 96 of the 190 KU students who matched selected primary care.
Justin Legris will train in family medicine at KU School of Medicine in Kansas City. Legris, 33, took a nontraditional path to Match Day. He worked as a music teacher prior to matriculating into medical school.
Legris says he was attracted to family medicine in part because the broad skill set he will learn translates well to missions work, which he hopes to do. "And, I got to meet a lot of great family physicians while being here," he said.
Legris is one of 53 seniors who will remain in Kansas for their residency training. An additional 13 students will train at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Research Medical Center or the University of Missouri–Kansas City, which are based in Kansas City, Mo.
Like Legris, Lyndsey Kilgore will also train at KU. She was accepted into the surgery residency program in Kansas City.
Kilgore's first experience in an operating room was with Gregory Muehlebach, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital. "He let me stand at the head of the bed, and I looked down and saw the heart beating in the chest," Kilgore said. "I was just enthralled."
Kilgore says KU was her first choice. "I love the faculty here and the research opportunities," she said. "I think it's going to facilitate whatever I want do in the future with my career."
Seniors were also accepted into residency programs at Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and other renowned hospitals outside the region. Shane Stecklein will train in radiation oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the No. 1 cancer hospital in U.S. News and World Report rankings.
Stecklein is a member of the M.D./Ph.D. program at KU. He began working in the lab of Roy Jensen, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, after his second year of medical school. He resumed his medical education after successfully defending his Ph.D. in pathology.
Stecklein spent a month at M.D. Anderson during an elective rotation last fall. "It was a place that I thought shared my passion and somewhere that would allow me to be a very productive member of their research and treatment teams," he said.
Some students knew the result before Friday. Urology and ophthalmology, for instance, operate outside the National Resident Matching Program.
Also, students who will receive military commissions know of their residency placement in advance of Match Day. Melissa Myers was accepted into the internal medicine program at the U.S. Army hospital at Ford Gordon in Augusta, Georgia.
Myers says she was inspired to become a military officer after watching her brother enlist in the Army and eventually enter officer training. "I had seen all of the unique and life-changing opportunities and experiences he had had, so I decided to sign an ROTC contract at Pittsburg State University immediately after high school," she said.
Once she was accepted to KU, Myers was eligible for a scholarship available to future health care professionals who become officers in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve. At Fort Gordon, she will care for advice duty soldiers, their families and military retirees, as well as learn to provide care in a simulated combat environment.
As for the students who did not know their fates before 11 a.m. on Friday, joy and relief were in abundance. "Rock chalk, Jayhawk! KU neurosurgery!" Christopher Miller exclaimed when he opened his envelope.
Mark Meyer, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, was master of ceremonies. When the event began, he congratulated the seniors on reaching an important milestone. "Well done," he said.
Doug Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and interim executive dean of KU School of Medicine, joined the celebration shortly after it began. Girod, a surgeon who sees patients on Fridays, was wearing his white coat when he walked into the auditorium. He sat in the front row.