March 23, 2023
Match Day 2023: A Momentous Occasion
With an overall match rate of 99%, the Class of 2023 celebrated the milestone of Match Day with tears, champagne and matching jerseys.
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On Friday, March 17, students, family members and faculty chatted anxiously and glanced at their watches at the Hippodrome Theater in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood. A slideshow presentation projected onto a screen behind the stage showcased each member of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s M.D. Class of 2023. Alongside it, a countdown clock ticked away.
After Nicole Deiorio M.D., associate dean for student affairs, gave procedural instructions for the ceremony — delivered patiently overtop the students’ excited chatter — David Chelmow, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine, shared his final Match Day message of congratulations.
“Thank you in particular to all the family and faculty for joining our students,” Chelmow said, commending the class for their flexibility, resilience and commitment to their education. “You should each be proud of what you have achieved here. I wish all of you the best and look forward to following your continued success throughout your careers.”
The cheers of support never diminished as each student’s name was called to walk the stage and receive their envelopes. The camaraderie was palpable among the Class of 2023, as many students embraced the “Draft Day” theme by wearing custom black and gold jerseys featuring their names embroidered on the back and a shared team number: 23.
Unable to attend in-person, Art Saavedra, M.D., incoming dean of the School of Medicine, sent a message of congratulations to the graduating class, including a grinning selfie wearing his own Class of 2023 jersey.
“You have done yourselves and our School of Medicine proud,” Saavedra wrote in an email to students. “I can't wait to celebrate your next milestone and to learn more about how you will continue to serve our communities in your chosen specialties in various areas of clinical medicine, research and education.”
As the final moments neared, Deiorio and Chris Woleben, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, led the crowd in a 10-second countdown. At the strike of noon, after one final “Congratulations!” students finally tore into their envelopes, confetti swirling and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” playing overhead.
Leaving a legacy
Teresa Elmore, who’s been elected class president every year since 2019, described her classmates first and foremost as deeply empathetic. She commended her peers for also being hardworking, supportive, generous and friendly, but said their ability to empathize with others is what makes the Class of 2023 memorable.
This trait was reinforced during their M3 OB-GYN rotation when they practiced delivering difficult news to actors portraying clinical scenarios for medical training, known as standardized patients. According to Fidelma Rigby, M.D., a professor in the Department of OB-GYN, feedback from these standardized patients revealed that Elmore and her classmates were some of the most empathetic students they had ever met.
“My sense is that this class cares deeply about the whole patient and is so willing to meet them where they are,” Rigby said. “They are constantly striving to help our patients overcome any roadblocks to their care.”
Elmore, who matched into the combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at Yale School of Medicine and plans to focus her career on underserved populations, said she is honored to be part of a class that puts so much emphasis on compassion.
“What a legacy to have as a class, for people to say we’re incredible doctors not just because of our clinical training but because we’re empathetic,” she said. “There are moments I’ve shared with patients that have made every struggle, every moment of not feeling worthy, worth it. Those singular moments of connecting with someone on an intimate level are very powerful.”
A couple’s journey
For many, Match Day is a day of firsts. Kathryn Hall, who will soon begin an anesthesiology residency at Mount Sinai West in New York City, is the first member of her family to attend medical school. When she began her clinical rotations, Hall quickly noticed opportunities for quality improvement, which eventually fed into her interest in anesthesiology.
“There is a special interface between quality improvement and anesthesiology, where patient safety is at the forefront of the type of work anesthesiologists do,” Hall said.
She completed a quality improvement project for each clinical rotation she was on, noting that these contributions may not have “revolutionized every rotation,” but hopefully “helped leave them better than when she started.”
Krishna Ravindra, co-vice president of the Class of 2023 and Hall’s partner, grew up anticipating Match Day. He comes from a family of physicians, including his sister, a Class of 2020 alum, and his father, who completed his internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at VCU.
He and Hall first met during medical school orientation week. The two were placed in the same team-building exercise group, the same lecture groups and the same medical school society. They also discovered they were neighbors, living only a block and a half away from one another, and each had best friends who became roommates.
“Whether we knew it or not, we were just growing closer and closer throughout med school,” Ravindra said. Hall added that it “almost feels like the school had conspired to put us together.”
The two began dating as third years, and with it came talk of the couples match, a complicated process for couples hoping to match at programs in the same geographic location. The arduous application process paid off — Ravindra matched into the internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania, just a two-hour train ride from Hall in New York.
Celebrating and reflecting
When Mary Namugosa arrived at the Hippodrome on March 17, she was more relaxed than most of her peers. As one of four students in the Class of 2023 who matched into urology, a highly competitive specialty with its own match process outside the National Resident Matching Program, Namugosa has known since early February that this summer she’ll head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to train at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Namugosa learned early on that she loved the operating room. After a lucky encounter with a urology intern during her general surgery rotation, everything fell into place.
“I was telling him about my interests, that I love surgery and medical devices, and want to serve underserved populations to increase care for conditions that people don’t pay as much attention to,” she said. “He asked why I hadn’t considered urology, and I was just never exposed to it, unfortunately. He connected me with the chair of the division, I got to do some shadowing, and I was like, ‘This is my field.’”
Born in Uganda to two social workers who worked for a nongovernmental organization during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Namugosa spent the earliest years of her life “where there was a lot of health need.” She moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 9, and around that time she told her parents she wanted to be a virologist.
“I don’t know if I even knew what that was at the time,” Namugosa said with a chuckle. “I just knew I wanted to be someone who helped people with diseases.”
For Emma Parolisi, the journey to becoming a doctor began when she came across a medical book at her aunt’s house as a child and “looked through it for hours.” In high school she volunteered at a hospital, and after shadowing a neurologist, she was hooked.
Parolisi participated in VCU's Summer Academic Enrichment Program before enrolling as a medical student, and said she was pleasantly surprised by all the opportunities to stay engaged during her time at VCU. She led the student interest group in neurology, served on the admissions committee and was president of the Medical Student Government this past year.
“I’d expected to spend the entire time studying and stuck in the library, but I ended up getting really involved in a lot of things that made my medical school experience really exciting,” she said.
When Parolisi stood among her classmates and tore into her long-anticipated envelope, she was thrilled with its contents. She matched into the neurology program here at VCU School of Medicine.
“All of my neurology rotations here have been wonderful, and the residents are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” she said. “I loved being a medical student at VCU. I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I’ll always be a Ram.”
To view a photo gallery of Match Day, visit medschool.vcu.edu/education/
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