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April 2008 Issue

Philip To matched with an orthopedic surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
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Medical Students Celebrate Residency Program Matches

Published April 2008

UC’s graduating medical students cheered their classmates March 20 at the college’s annual Match Day.

The national event matching graduating medical students with residency programs looks to some like a medical college’s own version of “March Madness.”

But the formula behind the match is quite complex and “wins” are decided by a grueling four years of coursework and clinical rotations and a series of high-stress interviews months before results are revealed.

Each year, graduating medical students must apply and interview for several residency programs of their choice. They then rank the programs according to where they’d most like to end up, and the residency program directors rank each interviewee based on whom they’d prefer.

The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), the organization responsible for keeping the match organized and fair, found that among 2008 graduates, interest in family medicine residencies is on the rise.

At UC, 15 students matched with family medicine residency programs—up from 13 in 2007. Internal medicine (42) was the most popular residency match for UC students, followed by emergency medicine (24), family medicine (15) and pediatrics (13).

University Hospital successfully filled 101 of 104 open residency positions. Nearly one quarter (23) of those spots went to graduating UC students.

UC’s Philip To matched with an orthopedic surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. But successfully matching in such a competitive program was bittersweet to the fourth-year student who recently lost his father to colon cancer.

To’s father was diagnosed with cancer in 2003—year one of medical school—and died in December 2007. To had only one week between his father’s funeral and the beginning of a month-long stretch of 16 residency program interviews.

“He really wanted to see me graduate,” says To. “The fact that he wasn’t going to be able to see that was one of his biggest disappointments.”

To’s father, a Chinese immigrant who fled Vietnam after the war, spent years in refugee camps before being brought to Toledo through a church sponsorship. He lost his wife, To’s mother, to breast cancer in 1993 and was left to raise his two children alone.

He put both To and his sister through college and worked almost every day until he died in December.

“During medical school, you train to heal and cure individuals,” To says. “The one person who mattered the most to me I couldn’t heal or cure. My father and mother are the inspirations that motivate me to succeed.” 

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