VTC School of Medicine Students Celebrate Their Day in The Sun

Persistence pays off as Class of 2022 enjoys 100 percent match with prestigious residency locations

It’s unlikely anyone has referred to the rigors of medical school as a day at the beach, but the soon-to-be physicians at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) finally had their day in the sun at the annual Match Day celebration Friday.

Match Day is when medical school students nationwide learn where they are destined for their residency program after four years of study, clinical assessments, and interviews. This year’s ceremony featured a beach-theme, dubbed VTSea Match Day, and was held in person at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke.

The Class of 2022 persisted through rough waters at many points during their time at VTCSOM, pivoting to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting to in-person rotation schedule changes as hospitals reduced availability, and interviewing for residencies via Zoom. The students could finally cut loose on Match Day, having learned where they will soon set sail for their residency training. All 41 students preparing to graduate in May matched to residency programs across the country.

“I’m tremendously proud of the achievements of the Class of 2022. Our students have shown remarkable adaptability through the pandemic, and their match success is a tribute to their determination and commitment to excellence,” said Lee Learman, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  “A critical attribute of any great physician is persistence in the face of unforeseen obstacles.  The Class of 2022 received their clinical education from heroes in health care, who created vivid memories of compassion and professionalism our students will carry into their careers in practice and leadership.”

Students at the Match Day celebration wore a colorful assortment of sunglasses, bucket hats, flip flops, and Hawaiian shirts as they opened their envelopes and found out their destinations. They will go into 22 specialties in 16 states and 30  academic health centers. Since the first graduating class in 2014, VTCSOM students have matched in 36 states plus the District of Columbia.

Fourteen students will remain in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with eight matching with Carilion Clinic-Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Three students matched with the University of Virginia and three with Virginia Commonwealth University. Natalia Sutherland, a Galax native, became the first VTCSOM student to match with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, specializing in internal medicine. Sutherland was ecstatic with her match and prepared to join one of the most selective internal medicine residency programs in the country. “I’m overwhelmed and extremely grateful. This is the culmination of all the education and training I got here,” said Sutherland. “It goes to show that VTCSOM students are incredible and we belong at the top hospitals in the United States.”

Three graduating students received an early residency match. Parth Vaidya will go to Emory University for ophthalmology and Jake Hartman-Kenzler will go to Stony Brook University for urology, becoming the first VTCSOM student to match with Stony Brook. Dawn Wright Ullmann will be specializing in neurology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she and her husband, Andrew Ullmann, a member of the Class of 2022 at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, both matched.

“Neurology has been my dream as long as I can remember, and I can’t believe it came true,” said Ullmann, who is being promoted to captain in the U.S. Army in May. “It makes it even more special that we matched at Walter Reed together. I can’t believe it.”

Michaela Pesce and Brandon Temel, a couple who attend VTCSOM together, matched at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. They are the first VTCSOM students to match there.

“It is really complicated to do interviews and coordinate rankings when you are trying to match as a couple,” Pesce said.

“And it’s so stressful when interviews don’t come in at the same time. You are worried that you won’t match together,” Temel added. “Fortunately, we got the best choice for each of us individually and as a couple. We are very thankful.”

The most represented specialties among VTCSOM’s Class of 2022 were internal medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, and psychiatry.

“The impressive match results for the Class of 2022 speaks to the hard work and resilience that this class is known for,” said Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs. “The footprint of VTCSOM has expanded by members of this class joining multiple residencies which have not previous had VTCSOM graduates.”

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