Gabriel Williams opened his match envelope, fist-pumped and cheered, “I got Nemours!” – capping off a Match Day at the UCF College of Medicine Friday that saw three students enter a new pediatric residency at Nemours Children’s Hospital down the street in Medical City.
Williams was born and raised in Orlando, did his undergraduate work at FAMU and returned to his hometown for medical school. He’d worked as a substitute teacher and like most College of Medicine students, did his pediatric clerkship at Nemours.
“Today is joy,” Williams said. “Nemours was my No. 1 choice because I want to give back to the community I grew up in.”
Twenty-one seniors matched into pediatrics – the most in College of Medicine’s seven years of graduating students. In total, 118 of 119 students who went through match secured graduate medical education positions. UCF’s 99 percent match rate is higher than this year’s national average of 93.9 percent. Nationwide, 38,376 medical students applied for 35,185 residency positions.
UCF med school graduates will do their training nationwide at hospitals including Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Michigan, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Yale. In Florida, in addition to Nemours, they will train at locations including AdventHealth, Orlando Health, University of Florida, University of Miami and University of South Florida. Nine will train at UCF residencies in North and Central Florida through a consortium with Hospital Corporation of America — the most UCF students of any residency program in the state.
Laura Chilcutt and Elliot Griffith are joining Williams at Nemours. Chilcutt was an immigrant/human rights attorney before medical school and when funding for such legal efforts dried up, she decided to become a doctor to do her part to care for the underserved. Griffith and Williams were standing at the same table when they learned they are both going to Nemours. They high-fived and hugged and then Griffith dug into a “goodie” bag of Nemours memorabilia that delighted hospital officials handed to him.
“Nemours is a great partner,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for health affairs and dean of the medical school. “That’s where most of our students get their training in pediatrics. Nemours has inspired more than a fifth of this year’s class to go intro pediatrics – including three who will be doing their residency training at that outstanding hospital.”
UCF held Match Day festivities on the Tavistock Green. Black and gold lanterns hung from the trees. Students chose a Harry Potter theme so match envelopes were sealed with black wax and secured under a bird cage. Students cannot learn their match results until noon EST, so Dr. Marcy Verduin, associate dean for students, counted down the last 10 seconds before noon and then yelled “Match,” signaling students to open their envelopes.
Jake Altier and his fiancée Alexis Guevara couples-matched at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Altier will train in internal medicine, Guevara in psychiatry. Their special guest was Simba, Guevara’s 12-year-old golden retriever that she’s had since he was an 8-week-old puppy.
Gray-faced Simba wore a sign around his neck that read, “I’m moving to _______.” After learning their match results, Guevara, still in tears, bent down and wrote Charleston on the sign in gold ink. The couple will be married May 26 — after med school graduation and before they move to South Carolina.
While they’re entering different specialties, they both have similar reasons for going into medicine. “I just love in the clinic that you get to really know people over the period of their entire life,” Altier said. “You get to step into a really vulnerable place — sickness — and help them to heal.”
Added Guevara: “I wanted to be at the forefront of taking care of patients, to walk with them through their darkest times. I’m so excited to have the blessing and opportunity to be able to do that for them.”
Standing on the green, Dr. Colleen Moran-Bano, who directs the College of Medicine’s pediatric curriculum, hugged and cheered as students ran toward her, announcing where they will do their pediatric residencies. Baylor…Cincinnati Children’s Hospital…Penn State…UCLA…University of Chicago…University of Colorado…University of Florida…University of South Florida.
“These students want to practice preventative medicine, advocate for children and help children become happy, healthy adults,” she said of her charges. “This is a group that’s highly motivated to improve the human condition.”
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