By Matthew Vaccaro | January 11, 2021 3:25 pm

Matthew Naedel made a commitment to saving lives while watching his grandmother suffer from the cardiovascular diseases that took her life. Today, he is another step closer to realizing this dream as he matched into a vascular surgery residency at University of California Davis Hospital while being stationed at the Travis Air Force Base. The vascular surgery residency is the only position available nationally in all three branches of the military and only one spot is filled each year.

“My grandmother has been my biggest influence in choosing this career path,” Naedel said, “and so this match really means a lot to me as it will give me the opportunity to save lives and help families. I’m just really grateful to have been selected.”

Naedel is one of four medical students who recently matched into competitive military residencies and will train at hospitals across the country including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  A second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, Naedel comes from a military family including his grandfather who was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot for the Army Air Corps in World War II and a prisoner of war.

All four seniors are recipients of the military’s Health Professions Scholarship, which covers tuition and living expenses for medical students who agree to serve their country for one year for each year of scholarship. Students match into residencies at military hospitals or do their service after civilian residencies. While the majority of the nation’s medical students will learn their residency match on March 19 — this year’s National Match Day — some specialties, including urology, ophthalmology and military-based residencies, announce matches early.

Medical school graduates must complete a residency program in their chosen specialty before they are able to practice. Students apply for and then interview with residency programs and rank their choices. Residency programs do the same. A computerized service then matches top choices from both. COVID-19 has forced all residency interviews to be virtual this year.

Hannah Prock Gibbs matched into orthopedic surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, securing one of only three spots available to U.S. Navy officers.  

“I grew up playing sports my whole life, and I suffered quite a few broken bones and sports injuries,” said Prock Gibbs, who cried tears of joy when she learned of her match.  “I also discovered I loved working with tools while remodeling my house with my husband. I didn’t really know how to incorporate that in medicine until I had the opportunity to do an orthopedic surgery rotation at Nemours Children’s Hospital and it was like a light bulb just went off. It all just clicked perfectly for me.”

Following in the footsteps of father, who is also in the Navy, Prock Gibbs says she is looking forward to caring for those who put their lives on the line to serve the country.

“They are resilient and want to get better, to get back in the field,” Prock Gibbs said. “They want to be out there protecting our country. So, I think it’s going to be such an honor to be able to treat them.”

Dr. Marcy Verduin, associate dean of students, congratulated the seniors on their achievements amid the challenges and restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

“I am so excited for these students and so proud of their hard work and persistence in achieving their dreams despite all of the hardship and challenges this year,” she said. “Their ability to match into extremely competitive residency positions within the military is evidence of their grit and determination in the pursuit of excellence.”

The two other military matches are:

  • Elle Crouse – ophthalmology at San Antonio Military Medical Center
  • Avery Johnson – internal medicine at San Diego Naval Medical Center

Joseph Ziebelman, another recipient of the military’s Health Professions Scholarship, received a civilian deferment and will enter the national match pool to be announced in March.

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