For news media: The OHSU Match Day event begins at 8:15 a.m. Friday, March 17, at the Robertson Life Sciences Building on Portland’s South Waterfront. Media planning to attend should gather in the first-floor atrium by no later than 8:30 a.m. Friday. Please confirm your attendance by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 16, with Franny White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 971-413-1992.
This Friday, March 17, marks a key milestone for just-beginning medical careers.
At Oregon Health & Science University and every other medical school across the United States, this Friday is Match Day, a highly anticipated event where most fourth-year medical students learn where their futures as physicians will take them. The annual, carefully choregraphed event is how students find out where they’ll continue their medical education as resident-physicians after they graduate this spring.
The OHSU School of Medicine’s Match Day celebration will feature both in-person and online excitement for its Class of 2023. Shortly before the big reveal, students who attend the in-person event will anxiously stand before a table lined with rows of envelopes, each one bearing an individual student’s name. At 9 a.m. Pacific Time, students at the in-person event will excitedly tear open their envelope, and virtual participants will eagerly click a link from their home computers.
Most residency assignments are made through the National Resident Match Program, which uses a sophisticated computer algorithm to pair students with graduate medical education, or residency, programs based on student applications, interviews, and student and program preferences.
Below are short profiles of two members of the OHSU School of Medicine M.D. Program’s Class of 2023 who will participate in this year’s Match Day ceremony.
Finding community and a calling in family medicine
After graduating from University of California, Berkeley in anthropology in 2013, Alexandra Levin, M.P.H., 32, pursued her interest in prehistoric archaeology by going to the Western United States’ sagebrush country in the Great Basin and eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range. There, she assisted in archeological excavations, often as a guest of Native American tribes.
“Part of my job was to talk with tribal members and listen to their goals,” she says. “Those conversations helped me realize tribal communities might need doctors more than archeologists.”
Levin set her sights on medical school. She took night classes and worked day jobs to support herself: light-fixture delivery person, after-school teacher, bicycle tour guide. To gain knowledge in public health, she earned an M.P.H. from the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health through online coursework.
“When I found out I was accepted to medical school at OHSU, I withdrew applications to all other medical schools,” she says. “It was an easy choice. I knew OHSU was the place where I was going to thrive.”
Levin enjoys working in rural areas, and after volunteering at a federally qualified health center and seeing family doctors in action, Levin knew that family medicine was for her. In medical school, she became a student leader in the Family Medicine Student Interest Group, organized lunch talks, and joined the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians as a student director.
In summer 2021, she spent three months on rural rotation at the Cascades East Family Medicine Center in Klamath Falls, a Sky Lakes Medical Center clinic that’s staffed by OHSU physicians and residents. The Klamath Basin is home to the Klamath Tribes, which include the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin-Paiute Peoples. She immediately felt at home in the small town surrounded by sagebrush and grasslands, pine forests and distant mountains.
There, she met people from the joint OHSU-Sky Lakes Cascades East Family Medicine Residency Program and was accepted into OHSU’s Oregon Family medicine Integrated Rural Student Training, or FIRST, program, which improves residency readiness for students entering rural family medicine training. Levin moved to Klamath Falls to finish her last year of medical school, soaking up every opportunity, such as completing wilderness medicine training near Crater Lake National Park.
Levin hopes to be matched with Cascades East or another rural family medicine training program. The first person in her family to go to medical school, Levin says she’s looking forward to practicing in rural Oregon, immersing herself in a small community and providing a full spectrum of care to all patients.
Driven to address health inequality
Originally from Sacramento, California, Anna Ayala, 25, was drawn to the pediatrics specialty early on in her rotations as a medical student. She loves how everyone — from health care workers to parents and community members — is so invested in helping each child.
“Everyone is willing to do whatever it takes for a young patient’s well-being,” Ayala says. “It fills your cup every day, and it’s meaningful work. Pediatrics is one of the very rare manifestations of what love and care can do.”
Medicine combines her passions, which include science and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Her love of science stems from her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. to study and work in software engineering, and her grandfather, who was a science teacher in India. Ayala realized she also wanted to address inequality when she was an undergraduate biochemistry student at Willamette University in Salem.
While there, she took a restorative justice class with inmates at Oregon State Penitentiary that helped her understand how institutions that are traditionally described as helping society can also cause harm. Just as inmates and their families face many hardships, she says she now realizes that some ways in which health care is delivered can have negative impacts. The experience also helped her recognize that she had the privilege of being raised by supportive, loving parents — something that isn’t always the case for children of incarcerated parents.
“I’m still learning how to use my privilege to empower others and do what’s right,” Ayala said, adding she will use that privilege to help her patients, as well.
Ayala is eagerly — and anxiously — waiting to find out where she’ll be matched. She hopes to be paired with a pediatrics residency program in California. After completing residency training, Ayala wants to work with underserved communities and care for young patients in an urban area.
Rachel Shafer wrote Alexandra Levin’s profile.