KU School of Medicine students announce where they will be residents
March 15, 2019
By Greg Peters
For the 200-plus graduating medical students on the University of Kansas School of Medicine's three campuses, Match Day is an anxious time. It ultimately culminates with joy and relief though, when four years of hard work and persistence conclude, and they learn where they matched for their residencies and in which specialty.
Match Day is also a nationwide annual event. On the third Friday in March, more than 30,000 students across the country await the news about which hospital they've been paired with via the National Resident Matching Program, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1952 to provide orderly and fair methodology for pairing applicants for residencies in the United States with the preferences of those in charge of the residency programs.
This year, a total of 198 students matched from the three KU School of Medicine campuses - 124 in Kansas City; 67 in Wichita; and 7 in Salina. Of the 205 graduates, 54 will be staying in Kansas for their residencies - 27 in Kansas City; 24 in Wichita; and 3 in Salina.
On the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, candidates took center stage at Battenfeld Auditorium to announce where they will spend the next three to seven years, depending on their specialties.
Among those matches was Asona Lui, who may have taken arguably one of the more challenging paths to Match Day of any of her peers in Kansas City before being matched in radiation oncology at the University of San Diego Medical Center in La Jolla, California. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Lui has spent the past eight years completing the M.D.-Ph.D. Physician Scientist Training Program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Along the way, she has persevered through academic uncertainty, dealt with personal loss and battled severe challenges to her health.
"I am definitely a stronger, more self-assured person," said Lui, whose husband, Marco, joined her parents and sister for the event. "I have found an even deeper commitment to empathy and compassion than when I started."
The daughter of a successful vascular surgeon in Topeka, Lui witnessed how demanding his career was and determined early on that she wanted to make her own way in medicine. She joined the M.D.-Ph.D. program hoping to further her work in immunology, but those plans changed just before she was about to take the Step 1 exam of her medical boards when the lab where she was supposed to work moved to another school. With the help of advisors in the M.D.-Ph.D. program and the dean's office, Lui found a mentor in Joan Lewis-Wambi, Ph.D., an assistant professor in cancer biology, who was a new junior faculty member at the time, A fruitful collaboration was born.
In late 2017, Lui faced personal tragedy when her good friend and M.D.-Ph.D. classmate, Amy Cantilena, was killed in a plane crash. "We dreamed about Match Day together many times over the last seven years," Lui said. "It's still hard to believe that she wasn't here on stage today. But I know she is celebrating with us, and I am sharing this accomplishment with her."
Another major obstacle that defined Lui's time in medical school was battling a connective tissue disorder that ultimately left her in a wheelchair for several months and having to relearn how to walk. She said the experience gave her greater empathy for her patients with mobility issues. Lui is slated to have knee surgery again shortly after Match Day.
Matt Moreno has had a life-long desire to become a physician. Growing up in Wichita, he would tag along with his mother when she took his older brother to the doctor to be treated for cerebral palsy and numerous other medical conditions. The care and kindness he witnessed from the medical professionals who treated his brother left a lasting impression.
"I have aspired to become a physician my entire life, and announcing where I matched gives me a strong sense of accomplishment," said Moreno, who was joined by close friends and family for Match Day. "They say as one door closes another one opens, so I am excited for what the future may bring and to be able to put into action everything I have learned throughout my four years of medical school."
Moreno matched in plastic surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. After arriving at medical school thinking he wanted to be a cardiologist, those plans changed to surgery after he spent a summer as a teaching assistant working in the Cadaver Lab and completing an elective in cardiothoracic surgery.
"I'm keeping my mind open about what I want to do after this residency," he said. "I enjoy teaching and being at an academic institution, and teaching the future generation of physicians is on my radar. I'd like to be a microsurgeon and ultimately practicing in Kansas."
In Salina, Francisco De la Serna was joined by his fiancé and parents as he learned that he will be traveling to Worchester, Massachusetts to work as a resident in emergency medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Born in Mexico and raised in St. Mary's, Kansas, De la Serna's career has been on a collision course with emergency medicine ever since he saw an episode of HBO's "Band of Brothers" that focused on Eugene "Doc" Roe.
"I was both terrified and amazed," said De la Serna, who earned his bachelor of science in biology from Washburn University. "For some reason, I knew that was who I should be. It didn't take long for me to follow in his footsteps, joining the Army as a combat medic. My interest in medicine continued to grow during my deployment in Iraq."
Shortly after returning from his deployment, De la Serna found himself in the middle of a mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas. With his training as a medic, De la Serna was able to help with the wounded and finished his day assisting in the emergency department.
"I observed the emergency physicians leading well-trained teams in calm, systematic resuscitations of the wounded, and for the second time in my life I knew who I should be."
In Wichita, Christy Peterson will be taking her medical skills to Nashville where she matched in urology at Vanderbilt University. Unlike many of her peers, Peterson matched in January, so she was able to enjoy the moment with her classmates before they head off to their residencies.
"This week, I've had the chance to spend time with my friends, reminiscing about our last four years and celebrating everyone's match," said the Washburn Rural High School graduate, who now considers Lindsborg her hometown. "It's encouraging to be around so many hard-working and empathetic colleagues who will soon be dedicated caregivers for their communities."
For as long as she can remember, Peterson has pursued a career in medicine. She can trace the beginning of her interest to the second grade, when despite having limited access to the medical community, she boldly told her parents she wanted to become a "brain surgeon."
Her plans have changed since grade school days. After graduating from Kansas State University with degrees in biology and psychology, Peterson enrolled in the KU School of Medicine thinking her calling was in cardiology. That all changed when she scrubbed in on her first surgery during her general surgery rotation in Wichita.
"I left the OR knowing I wanted to become a surgeon," she said. "The clinical aspects of medicine were still appealing, so I began my search for a specialty that would allow me to operate, while building long-term relationships with patients. A friend recommended urology, and I found the field to be the perfect combination of surgery and clinical medicine."