Fourth-year University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson medical students gathered at Old Main before learning where they’ll launch their careers as new physicians.
At the March 17 Match Day ceremony, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2023 learned where they will spend the next three to seven years of their careers as physicians in specialized residency training programs.
Cheers erupted as more than 100 students tore open envelopes and embraced each other and their loved ones in celebration.
More than 40,000 soon-to-be graduates from medical schools around the country took part in the annual tradition, simultaneously learning where the National Residency Matching Program placed them.
“This exciting and significant milestone is one of the many in our students’ journey to become physicians,” said Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “The previous leg of your journey is nearly over, and being rewarded. You should be proud of what you have accomplished so far — and confident in your ability to succeed in this next chapter.”
“Although they both serve as wonderful milestones, all the students I’ve worked with over the years are more excited on Match Day than they are on graduation,” said Kevin Moynahan, MD, College of Medicine – Tucson vice dean for education. “I hope that you are a better version of yourself, and the empathy that you came into medical school with is as strong or stronger than it was when you started.”
Tucson Match Results
Class of 2023 students matched at 57 hospitals in 25 states, at institutions such as Yale University, the Mayo Clinic, Duke University Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and UCLA. The graduates will pursue specialties in areas such as otolaryngology, orthopedic surgery, neurological surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, diagnostic radiology, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Nearly half of graduates will remain in Arizona and more than half of the class will go into primary care, helping address the primary care shortage across the state and nation. Residencies generally start in July, and residents are required to go to the institution to which they matched.
Match Day highlights include:
43.5% of graduates will complete their residencies in Arizona:
- 33 in Tucson
- 14 in the greater Phoenix area
Thirty-eight graduates matched with Banner – University Medical Center (BUMC) residency programs in Tucson and Phoenix.
51.9% of graduates matched into residencies in primary care fields, defined as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology:
- 27.8% in internal medicine
- 7.4% in pediatrics
- 7.4% in family medicine
- 6.5% in obstetrics and gynecology
48.1% matched into non-primary care specialties:
- 9.3% in anesthesiology
- 9.3% in emergency medicine
- 6.5% in general surgery
- 4.6% in diagnostic radiology
- 4.6% orthopedic surgery
- 3.7% in psychiatry
Meet the College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2023
There were 108 students who matched into residency programs. Below are a few of them.
Angelica Alvarez Reyes: ‘I want to enact change with my hands’
Angelica Alvarez Reyes graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience and Spanish literature. After she receives her medical degree in May, she will move across the country to Connecticut to begin her training in neurosurgery at Yale University.
“What appealed to me about Yale were the plentiful opportunities, both clinically and in research,” she says.
Her undergraduate education in neuroscience, followed by professional experience in research labs, primed her interest in neurosurgery.
“I wanted to get into a field where I could enact change with my hands,” she says. “I’m specifically interested in the spine — the spine is like a whole other world!”
Alvarez Reyes was raised in Somerton, Arizona, an agricultural town near Yuma.
“I could not be here without all the help and support of my family and community in Somerton,” she says. “It takes an entire village to have gotten me to this point, so I owe it all to them.”
She says opening the envelope to reveal her match was an emotional experience.
“It’s taken so much work just to get to this point,” she says. “I can’t believe it’s over, and all the effort has been so worth it.”
After completing her residency, Alvarez Reyes hopes to return to Arizona and work in academic medicine.
Ike Royal Chinyere, PhD: ‘A deep respect for the heart’
Ike Royal Chinyere, PhD, received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, and will stay here for a residency in internal medicine through the college’s clinical partnership with Banner – University Medical Center. He celebrated the news with his wife and young son.
“This past fall and winter, we had the privilege of touring the United States and working at some quite prestigious hospitals,” Dr. Chinyere says. “We learned more about medicine, research and our preferences with every stop. Ultimately, we believe that Tucson is where we’re supposed to be for our son. I am beyond excited and ready to start caring for patients in a new capacity.”
Dr. Chinyere applied for residency programs that will further develop him as a physician-scientist, and will ultimately pursue a career in cardiac electrophysiology, focusing on the electrical properties of the heart. In the future, he hopes he’ll be able to treat patients with arrhythmias while also working in the lab to develop better devices to treat patients with heart disease.
He has been fascinated by the heart since he was a teenager.
“Starting in high school, I developed a deep respect for the heart and its intricacies,” Dr. Chinyere says. “The heart is the pump at the center of us all, and accomplishes an amazing job every single day, hour and minute of our lives.”
Dr. Chinyere is looking forward to branching out as he begins the next phase of his training, but his time as a student has a special place in his heart.
“I enjoyed my time here and met a lot of amazing people, and there are a lot of good memories,” he says. “It’s amazing to be at this stage and I’m very excited for the future.”
Gabrielle Milillo: ‘This is what I was meant to do’
Gabrielle Milillo will begin her residency training in pediatrics at her No. 1 choice, the University of Texas Austin, along with her partner, Peter Sherman, who will train in internal medicine.
She says opening the envelope was nerve-wracking.
“I think I was shaking for an entire hour leading up to it, but it was all worth it,” she says. “I’m so excited. It feels unreal.”
Milillo will take the next step on a journey she’s been on since her childhood in Phoenix, where some of her most vivid memories took place in the doctor’s office.
“I really idolized my pediatrician. I valued the partnership she made with my family and her commitment to helping me grow as a person and as a patient at the same time,” she remembers. “She brought a sense of genuine excitement and energy to every visit. It didn’t feel like work for her — she truly loved it!”
Four years of medical school, and exposure to a variety of other specialties, couldn’t sway Milillo from her instincts. She says pediatrics is still the most electrifying of all the specialties.
“What I love about pediatrics is the ability to work with patients at the most transformative moments of their life, being able to contribute to their development in a positive way,” she says. “I’m excited to put everything that I’ve worked toward into my profession.”
Amanda Ruiz: ‘Put the patient first’
Peoria, Arizona, native Amanda Ruiz matched into anesthesiology with her top choice, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Ruiz was initially drawn to the Mayo Clinic because of its positive reputation with patient care.
“They’re on top of the country as far as putting the patient first,” she says. “They have a model that says the best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and that really fit with me.”
Ruiz was first drawn to anesthesiology as a teenager, when her baby sister needed open-heart surgery and the anesthesiologist made a connection with her family.
“My sister was four months old, and as stressful as everything was, what really helped was her anesthesiologist talking to us before and after the surgery,” Ruiz shares. “The way he was able to calm us down really stuck with me.”
Ruiz hopes to be that calming presence for patients and their families in the future.
Ruiz says her goals for her residency including learning how to “take care of patients and put the patient first and make them the most comfortable.”
After the residency, Ruiz has plans for a fellowship in obstetrics.
“I like being with women when they’re giving birth and helping them through that process,” Ruiz says. “I think the OB floor is the happiest place in the hospital.”
Ahmad Safdar: ‘Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God)’
Tucson native Ahmad Safdar matched to an internal medicine residency at his top choice, the Cleveland Clinic.
“It felt surreal, to be honest with you,” Safdar says. “I wasn’t expecting to match with my number one, but I’m very excited and humbled with the results. Seeing my mom by my side and witnessing her emotions was everything.”
Safdar researched at the Cleveland Clinic a few months before starting medical school, and with an interest in cardiology, it was a perfect match.
“I wanted to go to the best program that could prepare me for fellowship,” he says. “The city, as well, has several professional sports teams and is close to my wife’s hometown of Mississauga, Canada. So, we could not be happier.”
Safdar’s family has a history with heart disease; almost all of his uncles have had heart attacks. After watching them go to their cardiologists for treatment, Safdar was inspired to become a doctor for people like them. He hopes to mirror all the positive traits those uncles found in their cardiologists.
“They all were very empathetic, and they listened very closely to what my uncles had to say,” Safdar remembers. “I would accompany many of them when they went to their cardiologist, and it felt more like a conversation than them being told instructions.”
As a lifelong Tucsonan, Safdar is excited for a chance to live somewhere else and experience a different winter season.
“I haven’t really experienced one before and I know Cleveland has some rough ones — so we’ll see how that goes,” Safdar says.
Alicia Sandoval: ‘It’s a whole new adventure’
Alicia Sandoval will join the pathology residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
“In addition to the wide variety of pathologies that I’ll be able to see, they have a caring and resident-forward service,” Sandoval says. “They care a lot about their residents and do a lot of things to take care of the pathology residents, which I really liked.”
Sandoval hopes to become a forensic pathologist and is excited about the chance to enter The Johns Hopkins residency program.
“Pathology is a super-interesting field, and just getting to go across the country to study at one of the greatest hospitals is really exciting,” she says. “It’s a whole new adventure I’m looking forward to.”
One of Sandoval’s goals during residency is to learn to do something attending physicians do here at the College of Medicine – Tucson.
“I feel like I have so much to learn for pathology,” she says. “I just want to be able to take a look at a slide and competently talk about it like I’ve seen so many of the attendings here do.”
Most of all, Sandoval wants to be able to help people.
“Being able to see the fundamental cause of disease and being able to help our physicians help patients get better, that’s awesome,” she says.
Sanga Shir: ‘It still does not feel real’
Sanga Shir received a bachelor’s degree in physiology from the College of Medicine – Tucson and remained here for medical school. After receiving her medical degree in May, she’ll start packing for a cross-country move to Boston, where she’ll begin her residency in emergency medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
She says she was nervous as she opened the envelope revealing the match to her No. 1 choice.
“It still does not feel real,” she says, adding that she was drawn to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center because of the “good vibes” she felt during the interview process. “I really clicked with the faculty and staff, as well as the residents.”
Before starting medical school, Shir worked in an emergency department and already felt at home in that environment. As a medical student, she explored other specialties, but kept coming back to emergency medicine.
“I really like the busy atmosphere,” she says. “I’m hoping to become confident in all the procedures and learn how to connect with my future patients and help them the best I can.”
Shir grew up in Arizona and is open to returning after completing her residency, but she’s excited about the upcoming change in scenery.
“I’ve been in Tucson for 10 years, but I do feel like a winter girl at heart,” she says. “I’m looking forward to moving to Boston.”
The Class of 2023 (Sean O’Sullivan, College of Medicine – Tucson)
Angelica Alvarez Reyes (Noelle Haro-Gomez, UArizona Health Sciences)
Ike Royal Chinyere, PhD (Noelle Haro-Gomez, UArizona Health Sciences)
Gabrielle Milillo and Peter Sherman (Mitchell Masilun, UArizona BioCommunications)
Ahmad Safdar (Noelle Haro-Gomez, UArizona Health Sciences)
Alicia Sandoval (Sean O’Sullivan, College of Medicine – Tucson)
Sanga Shir (Mitchell Masilun, UArizona BioCommunications)