Medical Students Experience March Match Madness

Medical Students Experience March Match Madness

Held simultaneously across the country, Match Day gives medical students the opportunity to learn where they will continue their medical careers.

Written by Suzanna Cisneros

Just as March Madness grips sports fans across the country, another March tradition with the same excitement awaits the fates of medical students with Match Day. TTUHSC School of Medicine fourth-year students opened their envelopes earlier this month at the same time as other students across the country to find out where they will spend the next three to seven years as residents and what specialty they will pursue for their professional career.

Match Day is a nerve-wracking event that has played out on medical school campuses across the country since 1952. Months before Match Day, students begin applying to residency programs in their preferred specialties. Students visit sites to evaluate and ultimately rank their preferred residency programs. At the same time, administrators at each site interview applicants and rank them. The National Resident Matching Program coordinates this process and makes the final match algorithm, which is designed to produce results for students to fill the thousands of training positions available at U.S. teaching hospitals.

Putting the Patient First

Evans will complete a residency in radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic.

Evans will complete a residency in radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic.

Emma Evans recorded her husband Jaden as they both anxiously waited to see what his envelope would reveal. Evans, who is originally from Utah, matched at his top choices. He will spend one year in an internship at the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah before heading to the Mayo Clinic to complete his residency in radiation oncology. He will have the opportunity to work in cancer research at the Mayo Clinic while simultaneously training using the most current technologies in radiotherapy such as proton therapy.

“I love the Mayo Clinic’s approach to health care,” Evans said. “They take an interdisciplinary team approach to each patient using all the latest technology and truly put the patient’s needs first. Technology like intraoperative radiotherapy, HDR brachytherapy and a newly constructed state-of-the-art Proton Therapy Center are all available.”

Evans did cancer research as an undergraduate and worked for a biotech company developing a biomarker test to detect cancer earlier, which he patented.

“Radiation oncology is an exciting field,” Evans said. “I love working with cancer patients, learning their stories, and traveling the journey with them. In years past, cancer has been viewed widely as a death sentence. However, the paradigm is changing so that it is becoming less of a death sentence and more of a chronic condition that we can keep at bay. One of my ultimate goals, however, is to contribute to a durable cure for cancer.”

Although Evans will be headed out of Texas, he will have lasting connections to the TTUHSC School of Medicine.

“Texas medical schools have a great reputation nationally,” Evans said. “Wanting to be a proficient clinician, I knew Texas Tech was known for its outstanding clinical training which was one reason I wanted to come here. I am extremely appreciative towards the School of Medicine for everything they have done for my classmates and me. They helped me grow professionally in so many ways. They cultivated my interest in radiation oncology and bent over backwards to help me find great mentors in the field.”

Training Well-Rounded Physicians

Pfarr will complete a medicine-pediatric residency at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Pfarr will complete a medicine-pediatric residency at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Marie Pfarr, a fourth-year medical student from Lubbock, was always interested in science. Although both of her parents have Ph.D.s, she said her interests kept gravitating to the patient care field. After completing her degree at Austin College and completing internships in hospitals, Pharr decided medicine would combine her love of science and helping others.

“Medicine is a great balance,” Pfarr said. “There is nothing better than seeing patients get better.”

Pfarr, who served on the third TTUHSC Free Clinic at Lubbock Impact leadership team, said her time at the free clinic shaped her decision to pursue internal medicine and pediatrics.

“The TTUHSC Free Clinic reinforced my love of primary care,” Pfarr said. “I definitely knew I would want to pursue a specialty that would allow me to focus on this type of care.”

Pfarr matched her top choice at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor training in med-peds or the medicine-pediatric residency. She said the TTUHSC School of Medicine prepared her and her fellow classmates with a well-balanced experience.

“They were very supportive,” Pfarr said. “Medical school is not easy, but the education I received has prepared me for my residency. They pushed us to take a well-rounded approach to health care. Compassion, being caring and a good listener to patients were engrained in the whole class. This school built us to be strong patient advocates.”

Overcoming Obstacles

Parameswaran matched to Yale University's integrated adult cardiovascular surgery program.

Parameswaran matched to Yale University’s integrated adult cardiovascular surgery program.

Shamini Parameswaran never thought her academic journey would end up at Yale University’s integrated adult cardiovascular surgery program. Before finding out her match, she said her life has been built on a culmination of experiences.

“I was always interested in medicine even as a little girl,” Parameswaran said. “When my sister was being born I wanted to watch, although my mother ended up pushing me out of the room. I grew up in an engineering household as my father was a professor of engineering, but I always knew that my love for engineering would still end up within the medical field.”

After her second year at Johns Hopkins University’s biomedical engineering undergraduate program, Parameswaran said she failed out because of her low grades. Her Christian faith helped her in finding her path.

“God is the reason I am what I am,” Parameswaran said. “I accomplish nothing without Him. I knew I still wanted to pursue medicine and later returned to Johns Hopkins and competed my degree. But even then there were a series of obstacles like the Step 1 exam and other exams that were all needed to get to the next step in my medical career. I wanted to give up, but each time, I was surrounded by mentors like Dr. Berk, Dr. Athos Colon and Dr. John Griswold who worked with me and would not let me give up.”

Parmeswaran, who was the first female president of the TTUHSC Surgery Club, said she knows her field is still male dominated.

“I know surgery will be challenging,” Parmeswaran said. “For the 26 integrated CT programs that currently exist, there were only 33 spots available. This year there were more than 200 applicants applying for these spots. When I was interviewing at Yale, I realized that with the education I received at TTUHSC, I was just as good as everyone else. And this is only because of the amazing training and mentorship I received right here at TTUHSC. I am thankful for them and my parents.”

Steven L. Berk, M.D., TTUHSC executive vice president, provost and dean of the School of Medicine spoke to the students and said he has had the privilege to be dean for 10 years now and had the opportunity to witness the student’s journey.

“The match is becoming more and more competitive,” Berk said. “But today we have a record of success. I hope each of you gets your top match and if not, I like to quote Dr. Tom McGovern, saying, ‘Perhaps by a greater wisdom you have been put where you should be.’”

Berk said about half of the students will do their residency in Texas and 20 percent will stay at the TTUHSC School of Medicine. Other matches included, UCLA Medical Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, UT Southwestern Medical Center, UC San Diego, the University of Washington in Seattle, Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Emory.

“We are proud of our students’ accomplishments and share their excitement as they pursue their careers at outstanding teaching programs around the country,” Berk said.

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Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.

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School of Medicine
School of Medicine

Since 1969, the School of Medicine has graduated more than 3,000 physicians. The school aims to provide quality lab space, recruit creative, innovative research faculty, and develop graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for lifelong careers in medical research.

Today, more than 20 percent of the practicing physicians in West Texas have graduated from the School of Medicine or its residency programs.


Beginning in 1969 as Texas Tech University School of Medicine, TTUHSC now is a six-school university with campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa.

TTUHSC has trained more than 20,000 health care professionals, and meets the health care needs of more than 2.5 million people in the 108 counties including those in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.

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