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A day for medical matchmaking

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Bi Ade and Wole Awonsika
Medical students Bi Ade and her fiancé, Wole Awonsika, share the good news at Match Day: they are both going to residency training at medical centers in Boston.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

For Bi Ade, the matchmaking was both professional and personal.

Excited and nervous, Ade tore open the envelope that contained her medical residency placement — and her future, at least for the next several years.

She hoped to be sent to a program close to her fiancé, Wole Awonsika, who had learned earlier that he would train in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The letter in the envelope left her in tears. She is heading to Boston University Medical Center — her first choice, and in the same city as Awonsika.

“It was amazing,” Ade said. “It just felt like the culmination of the four years of work came together in this moment.”

Ade joined 172 other UIC medical students at Navy Pier March 20 for Match Day — a tradition where all fourth-year medical students across the country learn their residency placements at 11 a.m. through the National Resident Matching Program.

After applications and interviews with medical programs across the country, more than 15,000 students were matched to residencies this year.

Of UIC’s medical students, 34 percent will stay in Illinois for their residency programs. The top specialties they will study are internal medicine (17 percent), family medicine (12 percent ), pediatrics (11 percent) and anesthesiology (9 percent).

Students were called up to a podium in groups of 20 and handed the white envelopes that contained their fate.

After seeing the results, most chose to go up to a microphone and share their news — eliciting cheers, screams and excitement from the crowd.

Nirav Shah was one of the first students to announce his placement. He pumped his fists and yelled to the crowd that he was placed in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital — part of Harvard Medical School.

“It’s a great opportunity — it’s going to allow me to do whatever I want with my career,” he said. “It’s going to be challenging, but UIC does a phenomenal job of training and that’s why UIC did very well.”

Marika Wrzosek was happy to learn she would stay at UIC, where she found her passion for psychiatry.

“I was ecstatic — I know UIC has one of the strongest programs in the Midwest for psychiatry,” she said.

“Day 1 of med school, I said the one field I would not go into was psychiatry, but when I was doing all of my rotations, the patients that I enjoyed working with the most were the ones who had some sort of psychiatric problems.”

She is looking forward to spending more time at the Medical Center next year as a resident.

“It will be very challenging,” she said. “From what I heard of the program at UIC, I know fellow residents are very supportive, so I think there will be help when needed.”

Mario Mendoza’s announcement that he was heading to his first choice, University of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, was met with cheers and hugs from the crowd.

“It’s a great program, it’s the biggest department of anesthesia in the nation,” he said. “It’s got a lot of exposure to different cases — and it’s in beautiful Miami.”

He decided to train in anesthesiology because he likes the immediacy of the field.

“I love working with my hands,” he said. “I love being in the OR and with anesthesia, you see immediate results — it’s done in seconds or minutes instead of hours and weeks. Everything happens quickly.”

Reena Ghode also was matched with her first choice — Rush University Hospital. She’s looking forward to working with patients, but also focusing on the science of medicine in neurology.

“I’m happy to stay in Chicago,” she said. “I expect it to be pretty busy, but we were taught well. I think we’ll be kind of thought of as more of a colleague.”

Ade will train in internal medicine in Boston. She wants to promote the importance of health care in low-income communities.

“I remember not having a primary care physician in my childhood, and fearing going to the hospital because of financial restraints,” she said. “I want to reach out to these communities to bring them awareness of health.”

Shah said his initial excitement was replaced with a little bit of fear, but he is confident in his own and his peers’ dedication.

“Next year’s going to be the hardest year of everyone’s life,” he said. “But everyone’s going to make it. Everyone’s smart, good and well-trained. I have no doubt about my classmates.”


Below left: Nirav Shah and Vidhi Srivastava exchange hugs after learning their residency placements. Right: Mario Mendoza celebrates his placement in anesthesiology at University of Miami.

Photos: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Left: Nirav Shah and Vidhi Srivastava. Right: Mario Mendoza

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