Match Day: The end of the beginning

We spoke to a few students about this pivotal day, their reflections on their time at the UNC School of Medicine, and their feelings as they enter the next phases of their careers.

By Jamie Williams, jamie.williams@unchealth.unc.edu

Match Day has been described as the “end of the beginning.” It certainly represents the culmination of years of hard work and in many cases the realization of lifelong dreams. But it also marks the beginning of a critical new chapter. On Match Day, medical students from UNC and across the country learn where they will go to begin their residency training -- no longer as students but as doctors.

We spoke to a few students about this pivotal day, their reflections on their time at the UNC School of Medicine, and their feelings as they enter the next phases of their careers.

Kyle Melvin.(Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)Kyle Melvin:

Kyle Melvin, along with his classmates Thane Campbell and Thomas D’Angelo, blazed a trail at the UNC School of Medicine as the inaugural class of the Fully Integrated Readiness for Service Training (FIRST) program. FIRST is an enhanced curriculum that allows participants to complete medical school in three years and place into the UNC Family Medicine Residency Program.

So, while his classmates were anxiously awaiting their residency match results, Melvin already knew where he was heading. For him, it was only one advantage of his experience with FIRST.

“I came into FIRST with the expectation that I’d end up here, getting to join one of the top programs in the country,” Melvin said. “But, that definitely doesn’t take away from my excitement on Match Day. I love the department. I love the faculty and the residents.”

Through the FIRST program, Melvin has already spent a great deal of time working in the Family Medicine Clinic and interacting with residents.

“One of the things that I have loved about FIRST is the continuity I’ve had with faculty and residents,” he said. “We have worked closely together, and I’ve gotten awesome training that I know will allow me to step into this next phase.”

For some, being among the first class of a newly established program could be seen as a risk, but not for Melvin.

“I see this as a win-win. The department gets to cultivate the types of residents it wants, and I’ve gotten to work with outstanding faculty and residents, which will only continue,” Melvin said. “It’s a true blessing to stay here in Chapel Hill.”

KBlewKathryn Blew:

Kathryn Blew is leaving a legacy at the UNC School of Medicine. Throughout her time in medical school, Blew has been active in SHAC, the student-run free clinic in Carrboro, ultimately serving as the organization’s co-CEO in 2017.

“Of course it’s bittersweet to move on from something that has been such a huge part of my life,” Blew said. “But one of the beautiful things about SHAC is that you can make a large impact while you are there, but there are plenty of incredible students coming behind you to do the same thing.”

Now, Blew will take the skills learned at SHAC and the UNC School of Medicine into a pediatrics residency at Duke University Medical Center.

“I thought coming into medical school that I’d ultimately go into pediatrics,” Blew said. “I tried to keep an open mind through all of my rotations, but I just kept coming back to pediatrics.”

As Blew thought about Match Day, she admitted to feeling anxious, but said she buoyed herself with knowledge of what would come next.

“I just keep reminding myself that however it pans out, I still get to be a doctor,” Blew said. “I get to do this for the rest of my life.”

                               Ana Bermudez:

Ana Bermudez remembered orientation at the UNC School of Medicine. She remembered one part of the presentation in particular. It was a graphic explaining the phases of the four-year curriculum, from Principles of Medicine all the way through to graduation.

“I remember sitting in the auditorium, just thinking, ‘how am I going to do that?’” Bermudez said. “And now it’s starting to hit me. I did it. I’m here.”

She also reflected on the classmates she shared the room with in orientation and thought about seeing those same faces on Match Day.

“You grow up so much during medical school. I feel like we’ve all been through this experience together,” Bermudez said. “Match Day is one of the last times we’ll all be together.”

Bermudez shared Match Day with her family, who travelled from Miami. The last time they were in Chapel Hill was the White Coat Ceremony during Bermudez’s first year at UNC. She is carrying on a family legacy.

“I come from a family of physicians,” Bermudez said. “And for a long time I thought I’d go another direction, but here I am. I guess it’s in the genes.”

She matched into Internal Medicine at UNC Medical Center.

“I love the opportunity to build relationships with patients and work with them over a number of years,” Bermudez said. “And there is such a wide range of things you can do with internal medicine.”

Mary Shen. Medical studentMary Shen:

Mary Shen is a connector. She’s a mentor and a leader. And now she’s a surgeon, matching into general surgery at the University of Medicine.

That’s been the plan since she arrived at the UNC School of Medicine. She led the student chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons, helping to facilitate learning and networking opportunities between medical students, residents, and faculty. She was honored in 2016 with the University Award for the Advancement of Women and again in 2017 with the Patricia Numann Outstanding Medical Student Award from the Association of Women Surgeons.

Those experiences building connections with faculty and fellow students, combined with her learning in the classroom and the clinic, have prepared her for this moment.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for 20 years,” Shen said. “I feel excited, I feel prepared. I can’t wait to get started.”

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