Medical students learn where they will start careers as doctors-in-training

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Communications Director, Office of Dean of Medicine
Posted: Mar 21, 2014

Jeremy Stone skypes the news.
Jeremy Stone skypes the news.
Kendra Dilcher snaps a selfie with her parents.
Kendra Dilcher snaps a selfie with her parents.

The medical field’s own unique version of “March Madness” broke out all over the world today, as medical students around the globe learned, in one simultaneous moment, where they will begin their careers as MDs-in-training.

The madness included Hawai`i, at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), where 59 members of the Class of 2014 ripped open the sealed envelopes that revealed where they “matched” into Residency Training programs.

In the months leading up to today, each student has interviewed at multiple post-graduate training programs, making a list of the top three places he or she would like to go to learn specialties. Post-MD training programs in North America also made their lists of whom they would most like to accept. A computer matches the students with the programs on this single, emotion-filled day called “Match Day.”

Shortly after 6 a.m., before the envelopes were opened, Class President Ken Ortiz sought to lighten the mood, a tense combination of excitement and stressful anticipation. “This is like the NFL Draft for nerds,” he said, eliciting much laughter.

In fact, mimicking an NFL Draft tradition, Thomas Jessie (TJ) Aldan, who matched into the Hawai`i Internal Medicine Residency, wore a cap emblazoned with the Rainbow Warriors’ “H” logo. “I came prepared,” he proclaimed. Also bedecked in pile of lei from classmates, Aldan said he would become the first “second-generation” physician from Saipan to graduate from JABSOM. His father, Vicente, graduated from the UH medical school in 1990, and is practicing Family Medicine in Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Many students were accompanied to Match Day by their parents, including Haleiwa’s Kendra Dilcher, who will enter the Pediatrics Residency Program in Honolulu. Her father, Dr. T. Dilcher, a family physician on O’ahu’s North Shore, says Kendra literally grew up in the doctor’s office, helping out. “She loves kids,” he said, acknowledging his daughter’s interest in becoming a pediatrician. “But I’m holding out hope she might switch later to family medicine,” he added, with a chuckle. Kendra was ecstatic with her match. "This is one of the best moments of my life,” she said. ”I can’t remember a time where I have been more happy. I have my family here supporting me. It’s one of the biggest steps I have ever taken in my career so it is really important to me that my dreams came true."

Jared Pate finally was able to feel calm after he matched into the Orthopedic Surgery Program in Akron, Ohio. “There's a sigh of relief just to know where you are going and where you will be spending the next five years of your life. It’s now final. Like, you have a position that you will be going to next year," said Pate.

Three of the members of the Class of 2014 became parents during their four years at JABSOM. Among them was Benjamin Greidanus, who plans to become an anesthesiologist. He, his wife Katie, and infant daughter Alison will be heading to Canada, to a Family Medicine Residency in Edmonton.  “I’m happy, but I’m going to be sad to leave Hawai`i,” Greidanus said.

The 59 JABSOM students matching today will begin their careers as physicians in training in a dozen states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The states include Hawai`i, Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Among the happiest couple of UH students matching today were Alexander Lin (Ophthalmology) and Yuree Nam (Internal Medicine), sweethearts who each matched to programs in Seattle.

Twenty-five of the students at the UH medical school will remain in Hawai`i to practice medicine under the supervision of UH faculty in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology. The UH medical school also oversees residency programs in Geriatric Medicine, Pathology and Surgery.

"I really want to thank all the faculty and staff here at JABSOM, my friends and family for all the support they have given me and, you know, just the opportunity that UH has given me to become a physician, to make my dreams come true,” said Jodi Kagihara, who will enter the Internal Medicine Program in Honolulu.

The residency training programs in Hawai`i are a partnership with the key training sites where students learn at patient bedsides in their third and fourth years of medical school and where their post-MD training as residents is centered. Those primary locations include The Queen's Medical Center (Internal Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry), the Hawai`i Pacific Health hospitals including Kap`iolani Medical Center (Pediatrics, OB-GYN), Kuakini Medical Center (Geriatric Medicine) and Wahiawā General Hospital (Family Medicine). The Pathology Residency is based at JABSOM’s Kaka`ako campus.

This month, JABSOM was ranked the 57th program in the nation for Primary Care by U.S. News & World Report. 

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