March 17, 2000

Future addresses revealed

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The Gonzales family (from left) Rebecca, Ricardo, Cathy, Geneva and Danielle, jumped for joy after learning they were headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Future addresses revealed

Thursday was a bit of a relief for Ricardo (Rico) Gonzales, one of 108 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students who found out where they would be spending their residency years.

Match Day is held at the same time at every medical school across the nation. The raucous crowd graduating medical students gathered in 208 Light Hall. Dr. Bonnie M. Miller, associate Dean for Students, handed out the sealed envelopes containing residency site information at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Gonzales celebrated with his wife, Cathy, and daughters Geneva, 10, Danielle, 7, and Rebecca, 5 after finding out they would be going to Baltimore for his Orthopaedic Surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“I feel so blessed to have actually matched. In all reality it is pretty difficult to find a ‘bad’ ortho program so my family was a huge consideration where choosing a program was concerned — more important than the quality or name of the program. We spent most of our time over the past year studying cities that we thought might be nice and then looked for programs in the area. Fortunately we managed to get interviews at great programs in decent cities.”

Gonzales, 29, will graduate from medical school older than some of his classmates. Choosing medicine came after the exploration of two very different careers. He studied illustration briefly after high school at Otis-Parsons Art Institute in Los Angeles, then was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division during Desert Storm, and served in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait. He said he is looking forward to his residency even though it means long hours away from his family.

“Getting through medical school ends up being a constant struggle to balance learning what you need to know and having a life. This is true whether you have kids or not and I have to say that I really admire my classmates for the way they manage to be so well rounded. My wife gets credit for picking up all the slack at home. She’s so awesome.”

Dr. John E. Chapman, Dean of the School of Medicine, was, as usual, present for the match — his 36th.

Match Day works like this: the envelopes are placed in a basket, then chosen randomly by Miller. The Class of 2000 carried on the long-time tradition of putting a dollar in a glass fishbowl as they received their envelope. The last medical student to receive an envelope got the fishbowl’s contents.

This year it was Sandeep Kakaria, who was injured in an apartment fire last month that also claimed the life of his mother, Vimla. Kakaria was greeted with cheers throughout the program, and received a standing ovation to go along with his fishbowl money.

The medical students started the process for the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) more than a year ago by formulating initial lists of medical centers and hospitals to be considered for application and review.

After grueling application processes and on-site interviews, residency preferency lists are prepared by the students and the various programs. The NRMP computer then matches programs and students to give each their best choice. Match Day is the national event where the selections are revealed at medical schools across the country.

Here at Vanderbilt, 91 percent of the graduating medical students received one of their first three choices, and 72 percent matched with their first choice. All but three students matched at either a preliminary or advanced position and all couples matched together.

Eighteen students matching in eight different specialties are staying here at Vanderbilt.

"We are very happy with these results and with the very high quality of programs to which our students matched," Miller said. "They are a great class and they deserve all the credit."

Jennifer Casaletto, who matched in emergency medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., said that Match Day is anticlimactic compared to the weighing and ranking of programs done during the past year.

“Without a doubt the biggest stress of all was putting together the rank list. It will be a big relief to find out where my fiancée and I will be spending the next three or four years of our lives, but I think actually I am more excited to see where my classmates and undergraduate friends will match. Nonetheless, my hands were shaking when I opened that envelope.”

Casaletto said she has believed since she was 12, and had the first of a series of knee surgeries, that she wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon. Then in her third year of medical school, when she experienced the inside of an operating room for the first time, she changed her mind.

“I feel that my training here has prepared me well for residency but I’m not sure that any amount of medical training could lessen the anxiety that will come with July 1st, our first day of residency.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have been introduced to emergency medicine by Dr. Slovis and the Vanderbilt emergency department staff, as they have been interested and enthusiastic teachers as well as lots of fun to work alongside.”