A year after the world and their medical school experience changed forever, the OHSU School of Medicine M.D. Class of 2021 came together this morning on a giant videoconference and reconnected with what got them through: each other.
The joy was palpable.
Today is Match Day, the annual moment where fourth-year medical students in the United States learn where they will spend the next years of their training as newly minted doctors in residency programs across the country and beyond.
Of OHSU’s 158 fourth-year medical students, 123, or 78 percent, also completed their medical school classes a quarter early on Friday. This was due to the OHSU School of Medicine’s time-variable, competency-based undergraduate medical curriculum, and marked the school’s highest percentage of early graduates so far.
“This is AMAZING. Don’t leave me, Med21!” posted one student in the online chat as Benjamin Schneider, M.D., assistant dean for student affairs in undergraduate medical education, emceed a pre-Match Day celebration, including a faculty tribute and a student-compiled video featuring one photo-packed slide per student complete with favorite songs – from ABBA to Tracy Chapman and the Talking Heads. The celebration began with a land acknowledgment by classmate Michaela Merrill, Choctaw and Mohave, who founded and served as OHSU chapter president for the Association of Native American Medical Students.
“Since you began your journey with us here at OHSU, our collective reality has been turned on its head,” Schneider said. “All the while, you have kept your eyes on the prize. While many look forward to herd immunity allowing for us to get back to normal, you have appropriately called out that ‘normal’ wasn’t working very well for large parts of our communities. As challenges approached, you adapted, flexed and rose up to meet them – all the while, working to make things better. Med21, it has been my sincere pleasure to get to work with you and grow alongside you through these turbulent times.”
“Match Day is always a source of pride for the alumni,” said Abby Dotson, Ph.D., F ’16, assistant research professor of emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine and president of the School of Medicine’s Alumni Council, which co-hosted the celebration and supplied “match boxes” of goodies for each student. “Remember the network of alumni who can be a resource for you because now, no matter where you go, you’re never far from an OHSU alum. On behalf of the Alumni Council, we are so proud of you.”
Medical student and OHSU residency match results
The OHSU M.D. Class of 2021 posted a 97 percent match, besting the 2018-2020 national average of 95 percent.
Students matched in 26 different specialties in 29 states. About 44 percent are entering primary care and 28 percent are continuing their training in Oregon, including 34 students (22 percent) at OHSU.
Students who have not matched will be continuing on their path in medicine through other opportunities including research, further education, or seeking clinical training outside of the match. View full results.
Among OHSU’s 22 residency programs, all 194 slots filled. Programs include the new internal medicine and family medicine residencies at Hillsboro Medical Center.
When the clock inched toward 9 a.m., students grew quiet, checking their devices for the email from the National Resident Matching Program. Soon outbursts rippled across the WebEx and chat:
“Anesthesiology at OHSU!”
“I’m going to U-Dub!”
“University of Wisconsin Internal Medicine!”
“SO STOKED TO BE STAYING IN PORTLAND FOR FAMILY MED!!!!”
Below are profiles of just a few of the OHSU students who matched today:
Lubna Khan, 27
Matched to Baylor College of Medicine – Global Surgery Track
Influenced by her childhood in Pakistan, Lubna Khan plans to become a trauma surgeon who helps the sick and injured after war or disaster. She immigrated to the U.S. at 16, along with her parents and two sisters, attended high school in West Linn and studied biochemistry and biophysics at Oregon State University. There, she founded the Ettihad Cultural Center to provide a safe, welcoming place for Middle Eastern students and help the Corvallis community better understand their culture.
Khan says infrastructure is often lacking in Pakistan, and that often limits access to quality health care. Now she wants to build trust with people in underdeveloped areas to improve health care when it’s deeply needed - immediately after a crisis.
She will begin her general surgery residency in July. But because she’s among the 78 percent of her class graduating early today, she’s spending time with relatives she hasn’t seen in 11 years. In fact, she’s in Pakistan right now, and celebrated her match at a small family gathering.
“They’re so excited and proud of me,” said Khan, who wanted to be Pakistan’s president as a child but decided she could make a more direct impact as a doctor. “They’ve been praying for me and every test I took. To share this big day there is so special.”
Shane Hervey, 28
Matched to UC-San Francisco in Family Medicine
Shane Hervey’s interest in medicine emerged from a confluence of experiences:
His grandparents are Christian Scientists, who favor prayer over medicine, piquing Hervey’s interest: why not medicine? As a football player at Wilson High School, which is now Ida B. Wells High School, in Southwest Portland, he was a regular with the athletic trainer, physical therapists and a concussion clinic at OHSU Family Medicine Clinic at Gabriel Park. And, as an African American/Caucasian man who identifies as Black, he realized he is a translator and a bridge between groups, a gift he could use to advocate for patients.
He joined family in Irvine, California, and worked as a physical therapy aide and an emergency department scribe after graduating from the University of Oregon, only to realize the broader impact he could have as a physician. Meeting Kelley Butler, then a first-year medical school student at UC-Irvine, sealed the deal. Their second date was to a volunteer training for a needle exchange, an evidence-based intervention to protect people who inject drugs from sharing needles and contracting illness. Together they became active in the Student National Medical Association, a nonprofit organization committed to serving communities in need and giving agency and support to medical students of color and their allies.
From there, pursuing family medicine was a natural.
“Family medicine reflects our desire to fight for what’s right, to build relationships with patients and be able to help them, beyond the exam room, with things like access to shelter and the ability to vote,” Hervey said. “Beyond just listening to their heart with a stethoscope, we really want to listen to their needs.”
Hervey chose OHSU for medical school because “I loved the thought of going to OHSU, a couple miles from the community that raised me up and grew me into the person I am today. I thought I had something to give back.”
To synch her graduation with Hervey’s, Butler took a leave to get her master’s in public health at Harvard University and work in addiction medicine through the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization. Today they were in a couple’s match and both landed their first choice: University of California San Francisco.
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced for Hervey and Butler a physician’s fundamental responsibility to create a well-informed and welcoming treatment environment, particularly for those whose legitimate distrust of the system bred from historical inequity have hindered access to healthcare services.
“It really emphasized the need to take a step back and listen and respect patients’ autonomy,” Hervey said. “We need to learn how we as physicians can be more trustworthy as a whole community.”
Douglas Rice, 33
Matched to OHSU in Internal Medicine
Match Day brought Douglas Rice full circle. The youngest of triplets from Salem, he and his brothers were born at OHSU 33 years ago this month. Now he will graduate from medical school and enter the internal medicine residency here.
Rice discovered his interest in medicine while sitting together with his father in a cold exam room, waiting for his father’s oncologist.
“She calmly walked in, wearing a sweater and a gentle smile. No stethoscope. No medical badge. No white coat,” Rice said. “When she looked in my eyes, I knew she understood our pain. She took out a crisp whiteboard and distilled leukemia into language we could grasp. She relieved our pain with a pen instead of a prescription. She was a healing educator, and I wanted to inhabit her role more than anything else. My path to medicine is guided by compassion through education. My passion for science and teaching led me to medicine.”
Growing up on a farm outside Salem, giving shots and cleaning animals’ wounds fostered his interest in biology. He graduated from Willamette University and then earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. For his dissertation, he developed imaging probes that measure cancer treatment effectiveness. He left bench science to begin medical training so that he could directly help patients. His brothers are equally accomplished: Greg Rice got his Ph.D. in statistics at the University of Utah is now a statistics professor, while Brad Rice is in law school in New York.
Their father died in November from metastatic colon cancer.
“He suffered with cancer throughout my medical education, which took a toll on my emotional well-being,” Rice said. “I spent many days studying by his hospital bed in Salem or caring for him at our home. I intimately understand how hard it is to watch a family member slowly suffer from cancer, and I know that experience will make me a better physician. I feel blessed every day to have had a father who gave me every opportunity to pursue my dreams. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of him.”
On Match Day, Rice took comfort in his class, for which he and a classmate compiled a slideshow with personalized slides and music from each student.
“Every day of my fourth year has made me feel the tremendous responsibility of caring for humanity and the leadership all of us must bring to our communities,” Rice said. “We will enter residency at a time of great unpredictability. We must be able to communicate the science that is saving our society. We must deliver compassionate care that is sensitive to the needs of people struggling through an economy that has taken away livelihoods. We must be willing to put ourselves in harm’s way and prepare ourselves for challenges we have not yet considered. I know OHSU has prepared me well for that future.”
Franny White and Mariana Phipps contributed to this story.