Match Day 2017: Med students trace their career routes

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Match Day 2017: Med students trace their career routes

The places they’ll go! Graduates get ready to advance their training in caring for patients' lives and well-being
Jake Siegel

Graduating medical students around the country discovered today, March 17,  where they’ll spend the next three to seven years as residents. Match Day is the culmination of the National Residency Matching Program, which began months ago with applications and interviews. The moment of truth arrived at 9 a.m. this morning in Seattle, when 178 students from the UW School of Medicine’s Class of 2017 gathered with friends, family and faculty to learn where they would start building their careers.

Before the ceremony, several students shared some thoughts about their pasts and futures.

Janetta Arellano: Pediatric neurology. Her match is University of California, Irvine. 

Why medicine? “Growing up, my biggest role model was my pediatrician, who had a lot of compassion and really seemed to care about me and my family. I always enjoyed going to the doctor’s office. I never cried getting my immunizations; I was too fascinated by medicine. As I got older, that fascination turned into a career path.”

Why pediatric neurology? “I knew from the get-go I wanted to work with kids. When I was a sophomore in college, my older brother Pio was diagnosed with epilepsy. I started to invest time learning about epilepsy and joined a research lab at UC Irvine.

I suppose I had always separated pediatrics and neurology, but in med school I started shadowing physicians who combined the two. I saw children being so resilient even after being diagnosed with epilepsy or MS [multiple sclerosis]. I loved working with them and their parents. When I saw the teamwork and compassion of Seattle’ Children’s neurology group, I realized I had found my people.”

Favorite memory from UW: “The school nominated me for the American Medical Association’s Minority Scholar Award. When I won and flew out to Chicago to receive it, I was honored and humbled by the support I received throughout my four years here.”  

Ida Wilson: General surgery. Her match is Virginia Mason.

Why medicine? “I had a lot of great teachers who encouraged me to pursue my interest in science and biology. I was initially pre-med, but I didn’t go to med school right away. Not long after I graduated college, both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer in the same week.

I stayed in Montana to help take care of them. My mom has been in remission since 2004. My dad died from a recurrence of his disease in 2006. That whole experience has informed my bedside manner. I saw the care and compassion my parents received as they went through chemo and radiation, received a terminal diagnosis and went through planning for hospice. None of my classmates take these things lightly, but that definitely informed my decision-making and my empathy toward my patients.”

Why general surgery? “It had never been on my radar. Then I did a rotation at Virginia Mason and saw that I could have an immediate impact on patients’ lives. For me, surgery is the perfect mix of internal medicine’s critical thinking and the procedural skills I enjoy.

Surgery is still a male-dominated field, but it’s starting to change just like every other area of medicine has. I think there was a perception that the hours precluded women from having a family. But I just gave birth to my second child, and I was still on rotation when I was eight months pregnant. My colleagues were so accommodating, which gave me a lot of hope for the future of women in surgery.”

Favorite memory from med school: “I fell in love with Harborview. Everyone there deeply cares about the mission to serve the most vulnerable residents of King County.”   

Volkmar Gaussman: Family medicine. His match is Swedish.

Why medicine? “I’m 46, so this is my second career. I was (and still am) a real estate investor and small business owner. Life was good, but I always felt like something was missing. Then in 2004 my1-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. He’s fine today, but when he was going through treatment at Seattle Children’s I realized I wanted to do something more meaningful, something that would help people. So I decided to go to med school.”

Why family medicine? “What I like most about medicine is the need for building relationships with patients. I feel I get that the most in family medicine.”

Short-term career goals: “After residency, I’d like to work for a large system like UW Medicine or Swedish as opposed to running my own practice. I like working on a team. And while I'd like to combine medicine and business, I don’t want to do that as a solo practitioner.”

Kimeshia Thomas: Obstetrics and gynecology. Her match is University of Southern California.

Why medicine? “For a long time I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I liked the idea of helping people. I also liked talking. So combining the two would be awesome.

After college I became a doula at San Francisco General Hospital. There’s a saying in medical school that if you don’t look at the clock on rotation, it's because you’re enjoying yourself too much and it could be your calling. I remember those 12-hour shifts would fly by.

I knew that if I could get women to care about their health, I can change the lives of an entire family. That and a passion for helping people from underserved communities were my two career motivations.”

Short-term career goals: “After residency, I’d initially like to practice medicine in a low-income rural area. I did my first OB-GYN rotation in Yakima, and I loved serving that population.

Ultimately I’d like to end up in a community health center. There were lots of people in my family who didn’t have access to care and died early. So I’m very passionate about helping people from low-income communities.”

What will you miss most about med school? “The UW does a fabulous job of picking students, so I’ll miss my classmates. Also, and amazingly, I’ll miss the weather. It’s 90 right now in my hometown in California, and I’m not ready to go back to that heat.”  

Tara Ness and Jeremiah Stringam: Global child health pediatrics and interventional radiology, respectively. Tara’s match is Baylor; Jeremiah’s is MD Anderson.

How long have you known each other? Tara: “We met as undergrads at the University of Montana. I asked him to be my anatomy lab partner, and that was it.”

What’s next? Jeremiah: "I’m about to fly to Berlin to study an experimental, minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer. I’m focusing on interventional radiology at MD Anderson but ultimately want to specialize in interventional oncology.”

Tara: "Ultimately I’d like to go back to rural Montana, where I’m from, and teach the next generation of students."

Why medicine? Tara: “My mom was a physician. She went to med school back when there weren’t a lot of women entering medicine, and she’s always been such an inspiration to me.”

How are you going to celebrate? Tara: “Mimosas, laser tag, and dancing. There was a lot of adrenaline today, and you’ve got to get it out somehow.”

Jeremiah: “I’m going to work in the E.R. but I’ll make it for dancing.”

Tara: “I’m going to laser tag for both of us!” 

The 2017 Match had 35,969 U.S. and international medical school students and graduates vying for 31,757 residency positions across the country. At UW, 40 percent matched into residency programs in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region