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Rosalind Franklin University Celebrates Match Day

The university continues its record of excellent residency placement as the Chicago Medical School, Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, College of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions announced excellent match rates in the face of an unprecedented health crisis. 

Fourth-year students showed incredible grit in navigating their final year of health professions education and the residency search process as the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenge upon challenge. On Match Day, March 19, medical and podiatric medical students learned where they will spend the next three-to-seven years of training in their chosen specialties.

“Our faculty, students and staff have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome,” said CMS Dean Archana Chatterjee, MD, PhD, who joined the virtual gathering of CMS students and members of the Rosalind Franklin University community in celebrating a 95% match rate. The National Resident Matching Program reported a 92.8% match rate for U.S. senior medical students.

“This year has been difficult for practically everyone on the planet, but particularly so for our seniors who had to adjust to hybrid learning opportunities and virtual interviews, yet demonstrated their adaptability, resilience and fortitude in the face of adversity,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “These qualities will stand them in good stead as future physicians. Kudos to the Class of 2021!”

Scholl College Dean Stephanie Wu, DPM, MSc, FACFAS, highlighted a consecutive 100% match.

“It’s a testament to the resilient, competent and compassionate podiatric physicians our students will be when they begin residency training in July,” Dr. Wu said. “It also speaks to how well our faculty and curriculum have prepared these well-rounded students.”

The Clinical Psychology PhD program in the College of Health Professions achieved a 100% match rate in Phase I for the eight students applying for internships and residencies this year, with students headed to highly competitive programs around the country. 

“Our 100% placement rate reflects the excellence of our students, faculty and clinical training partners,” said CHP Dean John E. Vitale, PhD, MHS, PA(ASCP). "We're proud of this achievement."

While residency is not a requirement for pharmacists, a significant number of COP graduates pursue such training.

“These positions are very competitive, and we’re thrilled that many of our graduates were successful in attaining their goal of a residency in an excellent program,” said COP Dean Marc S. Abel, PhD. “This is true for members of the Class of 2021 as well as past graduates pursuing PGY2 residencies.”

Match Day is a culminating moment for each new generation of clinicians — now including those who have been tried and tested by a global pandemic. RFU students will train at prestigious institutions across the country, including Mayo Clinic, Yale-New Haven Hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C., Cleveland Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine-Houston, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Students also matched to numerous health systems around Chicagoland, including Loyola, Rush, the University of Illinois, Advocate Aurora and AMITA.

Samuel Bunting, who matched into psychiatry at the University of Chicago, was drawn to medicine after witnessing disparities in health care while growing up in a small town in Ohio. He spent six weeks in the early days of the pandemic contact tracing for the Lake County Health Department.

“About halfway through, the ZIP codes and locations of the people we were calling had changed,” Bunting said. “When I started, it was about 50/50 between less-advantaged and more-advantaged communities. When I was leaving it was more like 80/20 and soon after, 90/10. It was clear that the disproportionate number of new infections were among the essential workers we all rely on.”

Jennifer So, who matched to a podiatric medical and surgical residency at University of Florida Health Jacksonville, said the pandemic magnified the “huge importance of mental health.” It also deepened her compassion for her colleagues and classmates, especially the parents among them.

“We’re recognizing the reality of burnout, the need to lift the stigma around mental illness,” she said. “People are opening up about their stories. We can all relate. Everyone struggles with something, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or English as a second language.”

So was on a rotation in Florida in March 2020 when COVID hit. That rotation was cut short and her next, in internal medicine, was completely online. In the months that followed, she and her fiance and their cat Sweat Pea crisscrossed the nation in their small hatchback, driving more than 144 hours to rotations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New Mexico, Detroit, Louisville and back to Chicagoland.

“It’s been a crazy journey,” So said. “The screen time has been constant, which can contribute to the burnout so many have experienced during the pandemic.”

Both Bunting and So have used scholarship funds to meet unexpected expenses related to the pandemic. Bunting was awarded the Leonard Shepard, MD ’43, Memorial Scholarship. So received the Alfreda Sluzewski Memorial Scholarship. After Dr. Sluzewski, DPM ’37, was elected in 1949 as the first woman president of the Indiana Podiatry Association, she opened membership for the formerly Caucasian-only organization to all qualified podiatrists regardless of race or gender.

“My scholarship has helped give me the financial freedom to focus more on academics,” So said. “It’s an honor to have been selected. I hope to impact our profession for the good like Dr. Sluzewski did.”

A 2017-18 Franklin Fellow, Bunting has earned national and international recognition for his work around increasing prescriptions for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention in primary care. He is currently co-principal investigator with Sarah Garber, PhD, professor in RFU’s College of Pharmacy, on a study funded by Gilead Sciences investigating gaps in knowledge regarding PrEP among 2,400 U.S. medical and pharmacy students. It also looks at how implicit biases may interfere with clinical decision making about PrEP. Bunting also recently published an article in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, urging the mobilization of psychiatrists as PrEP prescribers.

“It’s been really striking to live through the COVID-19 pandemic while being engaged in research about another — the global HIV epidemic, with 38 million people infected worldwide as of 2019,” said Bunting, who plans to pursue research on the intersection between mental health and HIV risk. 

“It’s an area in great need of innovation,” he added. “I want to continue to bring my two passions — psychiatry and HIV prevention — together, to have conversations about stigma and help health systems become better equipped to handle that aspect of people’s lives.”

So, a first generation Korean-American from Longwood, Florida, is co-founder and chief medical consultant for KEYQO Security, LLC, a startup that designs IT tools for podiatry practices and consults on the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in health care. Her search for a residency, she said, went beyond program size.

“Podiatric medicine continues to evolve and allows me to learn new things every day,” said So, who became interested in the profession when she served as her grandfather’s medical interpreter during his long battle with Type 2 diabetes. 

“I want to learn from people who are leaders in their field, who can help improve the health of the lower extremity and overall health and well-being,” she said.

Posted March 19
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