School of Medicine Celebrates Its Second Match Day

2018 Graduates of UCR School of Medicine
The class of 2018 celebrated Match Day on March 16, 2018.

49 UC Riverside medical students were matched for a residency program, with the majority staying in California

By Iqbal Pittalwala On MARCH 16, 2018

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Forty-nine students graduating from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, took part today in “Match Day,” the day when graduating medical students throughout the country find out if they have matched for a residency program at a hospital or health system of their choosing.

The students, their families, and friends joined the School of Medicine’s faculty and staff at the Riverside Convention Center where, at precisely 9 a.m., the students ripped open envelopes to learn where they will spend at least the next few years of their lives.

The event, which marked the culmination of four demanding years of medical school, was charged with emotion for not only the students but also their families and the School of Medicine faculty and staff.

Loud cheers and cries of joy erupted in a packed ballroom as students held up their match letters and told family and friends where they will spend their residency.

This year, more than 80 percent of the medical school’s 2018 class will do their residencies in California, with about 39 percent staying in the Inland Empire. More than 50 percent of the students will take part in primary care residencies.

“It’s been a long haul,” said Dr. Deborah Deas, the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean and chief executive officer for clinical affairs at the medical school, to the class of 2018. “You worked hard, you worked long hours. Along the way, there was a lot of excitement, lots of tears. You didn’t do it all alone. You had tremendous support from your family members, and your professors and staff in the School of Medicine — all of whom wanted to enable your success. As you know, our mission is to increase the physician workforce in inland Southern California. We are, therefore, counting on you to return to our region soon.”

Neal Schiller, the medical school’s senior associate dean for student affairs, said it had been both a pleasure and privilege to be a part of the class of 2018’s educational path.

“We wish you the very best,” he said. “We know you will represent the UCR School of Medicine well in the populations you are going to work with. The communities around us need you. We hope you will make a serious effort to come back to our region and be part of our community. We hope, too, that we met or exceeded your expectations. You should know you have exceeded many of our expectations. As a new medical school we were very encouraged to find in you a strong cohort of medical applicants who chose us for their education. We thank you for that and hope we earned your trust in supporting you as you moved forward.”

Dr. Gerald Maguire, the associate dean for graduate medical education and chair of psychiatry, urged the class of 2018 to remember that medicine is always a calling.

“If on a tough day you have any doubts about why you are in your field, read your personal statements for medical school and residency,” said Maguire, pleased that three students in the class of 2018 had matched for the UCR psychiatry residency program. “Those statements will remind you why you chose this career.”

One of the three students soon joining Maguire’s residency program is Edgar Ortega, who grew up in Mexicali, Mexico. Ortega knew he wanted to be in inland Southern California for his residency and was drawn to the region in part because of his family living in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

“There is a lot of need for mental health professionals in this area which has a large Hispanic population and other minority groups as well,” said Ortega, 31, who became a U.S. citizen in 2012. “This diversity was also a big motivation for me to stay in Riverside County. I still don’t believe I have come to this point in my nearly 11-year journey since I left Mexico for the United States.”

Dr. Gemma Kim, who directs the family residency program at the UCR Health Family Medicine Center in Palm Springs, had words of advice for Ortega and the others in the graduating class.

“Embrace the moment. You have a certain number of years to finish your residency program to learn as much as you can,” Kim said. “When you finish residency you still won’t know everything. Your medical career is a lifelong learning process. The grass is greener where you water it, I tell my residents. So water all you can.”

Dr. Tae Kim, chief medical officer for UCR Health, remembered his own Match Day many years ago.

“There was a lot of anxiety because you don’t know where you will be the next three years of your life,” he said. “I got no rest the night before due to excitement. You hope you match with one of your top three choices for a residency program. I was fortunate to get my first choice.”

His advice for the class of 2018: “In your first year you will learn the most because it’s such a high learning curve, made tougher because you are taking care of patients. There may be times when it doesn’t seem doable. But it is doable, I can assure you; so don’t give up, just as you didn’t give up in medical school. Keep on pushing forward because at the end of the day it is about patient care; it’s about supporting your community.”

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