Fourth-year med students learn their fates

March 16, 2012

By C.J. Janovy, photos by Donna Peck

KU School of Medicine Match Day 2012
Nidhi Patel reacts to news of her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa.

For a Match Day slide show, click on the KU Medical Center's flickr page.


It was a balmy hour for more than 400 people — graduating medical students, their friends, parents and a few tiny babies — who filled the University of Kansas Medical Center's Battenfeld Auditorium for Match Day, 2012. Fourth-year students at the KU School of Medicine were among nearly 16,000 med students around the nation who began, at exactly 11 a.m. Central Standard Time, opening the envelopes that would reveal where they'll be spending the next three or more years of their residency training.

It was the first year KU sent anyone to Alaska, said Laura Zeiger, assistant dean for student affairs. This year also saw more couples than in previous years, Zeiger said (nationally, the number of couples matching was also at an all-time high). Also notable: the three M.D.-Ph.D.s in this year's class.

The Alaska-bound student was Marta Lasater, who is headed to Anchorage for a Family Medicine residency at Providence Hospital. "I'm very happy," Lasater said. "It was my first choice. I like the program because the focus is on rural medicine." Adding to the attraction for Lasater: "It's beautiful there."

One of record-setting six couples was Sheldon Leslie, who is going to the Anesthesiology program at U.C. Irvine, and Sarita Singh, who is entering the Family Medicine program at UCLA. Singh, a Kansas City native (and graduate of Olathe East High School), said they barely saw each other for the two months she spent doing 25 interviews — while he did 19 — for residency programs around the country. Leslie, who is originally from Jamaica, said he started medical school as a single parent with a young son. "After we met in the first year," he said of Singh, it got way easier. The couple's next big day is June 2: their wedding in Jamaica. After that, Singh said, "I'm looking forward to starting our new life as a family in Southern California."

Heading in the opposite direction is Brianne Mitchell, who'll start a general surgery residency at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J. It, too, was her first choice. Though she'll miss the security she felt at KU Medical School and the rapport she's built with her classmates here, Mitchell said she was looking forward to becoming a surgeon. "I always wanted to be a doctor, and to have this opportunity is extremely humbling," she said. "I just want to do right by patients and help them have a good post-surgical outcome."

Among the three M.D.-Ph.D. students was David Scoville, who's been in school for so long he at first couldn't remember whether it had been eight or nine years (he came to Kansas City in 2003). In KU's M.D.-Ph.D. program, students complete their first two years of medical school, then break for the Ph.D.; Scoville studied stem cell biology in the pathology department at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. He came back to the medical center for his third and fourth years of medical school, and is now going to a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford. His interests, he said, are three-fold: "First, I want to have a clinical practice in cardiothoracic surgery. Second, I want to do research in tissue generation — using stem cells to regenerate myocardial or heart tissue after heart attacks, or being able to generate a new aorta or heart valve using the concepts of stem cell biology. Third, I'm pretty passionate about teaching, so academic medicine really fits the bill for those three facets." Getting his Ph.D. was one of the biggest moments of the last few years, Scoville said, and now Match Day was another. But two other big things happened since he started school: the birth of his kids, now eight and seven.

This year, half of KU School of Medicine's 168 grads went into primary care:
40 in Family Medicine (22 in Kansas City and 18 in Wichita)
21 in Internal Medicine
17 in Pediatrics
6 in Medicine-Pediatrics

KU School of Medicine grads going into other specialties:
10 Emergency Medicine
9 in Anesthesiology, Diagnostic Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology
7 in Orthopedic Surgery, Surgery-Preliminary
6 in specialties not immediately known
5 in Neurology
4 in Surgery
3 in Ophthalmology, Pathology, Urologic Surgery
2 in Psychiatry

1 each in:
Plastic Surgery
Thoracic Surgery
Transitional year

The 95 percent of U.S. medical school seniors who matched into residency positions was the highest rate in 30 years, according to the National Resident Matching Program. The number of people who applied this year — 38,377— amounted to an increase of more than 2,400 over the last five years. These individuals applied for 26,772 positions, an increase of 614 over 2011. More information on the national trends is here.

Last modified: Mar 29, 2012