UTHealth Medical School seniors meet their match

Students learn during Match Day where they will train as residents

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Katherine Lusk

Katherine Lusk

HOUSTON - (March 12, 2012) – With four years of medical school nearly behind them, approximately 220 excited students at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School will find out on Match Day where they will begin the next phase of their medical training.

Match Day is an annual event that occurs simultaneously across the country as students are matched with residencies with the aid of computer technology and the National Resident Matching Program. At UTHealth, this year’s event begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 16 in Webber Plaza, which is located behind the UTHealth Medical School at 6431 Fannin St.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” said Katherine Lusk, president of UTHealth Medical School’s Class of 2012.

The tight-knit class forged friendships during Hurricane Ike, which struck the Gulf Coast right before the students’ first big exam. Since then, together they have learned what it takes to be physicians dedicated to excellence in patient care.

In the months leading up to Match Day, the students interviewed with residency programs across the country.  Anesthesiology, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and general surgery are among some of the most popular areas of medicine that members of UTHealth Medical School’s Class of 2012 have selected for residency training. Many of them would like to stay in Texas for that training.

“Our students are truly second to none and always do very well in the match,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., president ad interim of UTHealth and dean of the UTHealth Medical School.

Surrounded by family, friends and faculty, the students will open envelopes to reveal the location of their residency. Will it be Houston? Will it be someplace else? Join us on Match Day to find out.

Here are stories from a few of the students who will be participating in this year’s match:

Lisa Osterhout

Lisa Osterhout

Irving Basanez

Irving Basanez

Chika Nwankwo

Chika Nwankwo

Adam Weisbruch

Adam Weisbruch

Lisa Osterhout, 29, had promising careers as a marketing executive and graphic artist, but she discovered that the volunteer work she was doing on weekends was far more rewarding that her weekdays promoting popular rock bands and creating 3D special effects. She was already contemplating a career move when, in 2004, she suddenly became sick. Two surgeries, encouragement from family and friends and news reports about the Indian Ocean tsunami ultimately led to her decision to become a physician committed to public service. In the summer of 2005, the Pearland native returned to The University of Texas at Austin, where she had previously earned a degree in marketing, to complete her pre-med coursework. “Medicine allows me to integrate the creative aspects from my previous work while focusing on service,” she said. Since enrolling at the UTHealth Medical School, she has served as executive director at the H.O.M.E.S. Clinic in Houston and founded a sustainable project to improve health in children’s homes in Kenya. She plans to do her graduate medical training in pediatrics.

When Irving Basanez arrived on the UTHealth campus in 2008 at the age of 19, he was the youngest student ever admitted to the Medical School. Basanez - who moved with his family from Veracruz, Mexico when he was 8 years old to live in Pharr, Texas - finished high school in three years and pushed himself to finish college in the same length of time. During his first year of medical school, he became interested in otolaryngology and decided he wanted to do his residency training in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialty. He also became interested in global health issues and participated in a number of mission trips, including one to Nigeria where he donated his own blood to save a woman from bleeding to death. Like his fellow classmates who are participating in Match Day, he doesn’t yet know the location of his residency, but he does know where he would ultimately like to establish his medical practice. “I’ve had such great mentors here. I want to pay it forward and encourage and mentor students with an interest in ENT and global health,” Basanez said. “And I would like to come back and practice in the (Rio Grande) Valley.” Now 22, Basanez jokes, “Medical school has aged me.”

Chika Nwankwo, 25, is one of more than a dozen UTHealth Medical School students who are planning to do graduate medical training in anesthesiology. “It was the rotation I enjoyed the most and I have found that it is the most compatible with my personality,” she said. “In the OR, you encounter cases that are new, different and, at times, challenging. I think it is the variety that draws me to the field.” Nwankwo was born in Nigeria and moved to Dallas with her family when she was 10. Growing up, she remembers her mother, a nurse, telling her and her brothers and sister, “You’re all going to be doctors.” Nwankwo jokes that she was the only child who listened. In May, she will earn her medical degree. Her proud mother will be with her on Match Day when she learns where she will do her residency training.

Adam Weisbruch, 28, didn’t originally plan to become a doctor. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and then took a job as a concierge at an upscale hotel in Dallas. Volunteering at a camp for children with diabetes was one of the reasons he chose to get out of the hospitality industry and into a profession in a hospital. Unlike the majority of his classmates, he is not at all anxious about the unknowns leading up to Match Day. That is because he is among a small group of UTHealth students who participated in the military match or early match. In December, he learned that he’ll be doing his internal medicine residency at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio. “It was just like any other day,” Weisbruch said. “I received an email in the middle of the work day while I was on rotation. The attending congratulated me, and then it was back to work.” Weisbruch, a Dallas native who is married with four children, said he is happy to be staying in Texas for his residency training. “I love the environment of military medicine,” he said. He’ll attend Match Day to support his classmates and take part in the celebration. And he has some words of advice for those who will be tearing into their envelopes on Friday to learn where they will take the next step in their medical career: “Just relax. You’re going to get a good education no matter where you end up.”

Meredith Raine
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030