Celebrating in-person with family and friends, 144 physicians-to-be match to medical residencies

At Match Day, members of the Warren Alpert Medical School’s Class of 2022 were placed in medical residency programs across the country and right in Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For the first time in two years, Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School held its Match Day celebration in person, complete with a customary Champagne toast, much to the community’s delight. The mood was festive and emotions ran high as 144 fourth-year medical students — along with classmates, faculty, staff and, best of all, friends and family — stood in Sayles Hall, waiting to learn where they would be matched for residency and spend the next few years of their lives.

Match Day is the culmination of four demanding years of classes and clinical rotations, which ends with an arduous nine-month residency application process. Students rank their top choices for residency — post-graduate training for newly minted physicians — based on program type and career aspirations, but geography plays a large role, too. Since students will spend several years in residencies, most seek programs in locations near family members and romantic partners, or in communities where they would like to stay.

“It was so exciting to learn that Match Day was finally coming back to a version it was pre-pandemic, and it is also such a nice thing that we can bring guests!” said Sachit Singal, whose visitors included his parents from New York, his partner from Connecticut, as well as his sister and brother-in-law, who live in Rhode Island.

It was especially important to Singal to bring these particular guests, since he was, “not the first, not the second, and not even the third doctor in my family,” as his parents had worked in India as physicians, and his sister and brother-in-law are also doctors. 

Singal is planning to train in internal medicine and eventually specialize in cardiology – which is exactly what his sister and brother-in-law have done. In fact, they’re also Brown alums who have remained in the Providence area.

“This is such an important milestone in any med student’s career, and to be able to share that with the people you love and trust, as well as medical advisors and mentors, is so special,” Singal said.

Singal said that having his loved ones present was almost more important than finding out where he matched, but he was nevertheless thrilled to find out he matched to Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s internal medicine residency program with Harvard Medical School.

“It was important to me to be surrounded by thoughtful mentors who are experienced in their field,” he said. Also key: Being a car ride away from family. “I’m so happy to be sticking around New England for a few more years.”

The Ocean State’s newest physicians

It was especially fitting that this particular group of Class of 2022 medical students was able to share the Match Day experience in-person, since they had gone through such a unique experience together. As noted by Dr. Mukesh Jain, who begin this month as Warren Alpert Medical School dean, this graduating class had the distinction of learning to care for patients during a global pandemic.

All medical students work hard, Jain said, but “the circumstances over the last two years have only amplified the intensity of the experience and the magnitude of your accomplishments.”

During the event, Brown President Christina H. Paxson commended the doctors-in-training for their willingness to pitch in as health care providers worked to treat patients under near-impossible conditions at points: “You saw firsthand inequities in health care and you saw firsthand fissures in our health care system,” Paxson said. “You stepped up, helped Rhode Island communities and helped physicians. You were awesome.”

When Jain asked the students to reflect on the experiences that have gotten them to this point in their medical school careers, a stillness fell over the room and put a temporary pause on the excitement that infused the celebration. The significance of experience Match Day as a class was something on which Shir Oring had already been reflecting.

“We’re the first graduating class to have all of our clinical experiences during the context of COVID,” Oring said. “It feels like a victory to be able to celebrate together.”

Oring is originally from Israel, but she moved to Rhode Island when she was 10. She feels a strong affinity to the state, and ranked the Warren Alpert Medical School’s family medicine program — with tracks in Pawtucket at the Family Care Center and in West Warwick at the Thundermist Health Center — as her top choice.

“As family medicine doctors, we get to take care of kids, adults, older people, pregnant people — we help out everyone at every stage at life,” she said. And she wants to do that close to home. “I’d like to take care of the population that raised me.”

Oring’s parents and husband, who live nearby, were with her when she found out that she had indeed matched with Brown family medicine.

“We are happily celebrating that I’ll be able to stay near my family and that I’ll be able to care for my community!” she said.

While soon-to-be physicians will head everywhere from Chicago to Oklahoma and from South Carolina to San Diego to Seattle, 19 other students also matched with Warren Alpert Medical School residency programs this year and will remain in the Providence area, honing their clinical skills and caring for local patients.

Jessica Chen will train in obstetrics and gynecology with Brown at Women and Infants Hospital. Chen decided on that track during her third year of medical school, after a clinical rotation.

“The people in the Brown residency program were so amazing in teaching and involving medical students,” she said. “The residents, the attendings, the midwives — they’re all so busy, yet they took the time to care about us medical students. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”

Chen was also attracted to the opportunity to care for Providence’s diverse patient population, with medical providers who she said paid attention to providing culturally attuned care. “I knew I wanted to be surrounded by people more active in that kind of care.”

Chen said that most of all, what she saw from working with the Brown residents is that they seemed to be a family that cared for and supported each other. “That meant a lot to me, and I’m so happy that I’ll be a part of it.”

A commitment to patient care

Going through medical training during a global pandemic created a bond not only among students and other medical professionals, but also with the local patients. This was something that Carol Shi was thinking about in the hectic days before Match Day.

“The patients I’ve worked with here have been so diverse and so resilient,” Shi said. “We’ve all collectively been through so much in this pandemic, which involved a lot of uncertainty and unrest. The people of Rhode Island have been extraordinary to care for, and I’m grateful for what I have learned from them.”

Shi, who is from California, will train with the obstetrics and gynecology program at Kaiser Permanente’s  Santa Clara Medical Center in her native state. Her parents, who still live in Northern California, weren’t able to make it to Match Day, but Shi filled them in via FaceTime from outside of Sayles Hall.

As part of Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education, Shi completed her undergraduate degree as well as her medical school education at Brown — which means she’s been a Rhode Islander for nearly a decade. Her parents were elated to hear the news of her match, because their daughter will return home after eight years in Providence.

Shi’s excited, too.

“I'm extremely proud to match at Kaiser Santa Clara because it's a supportive program that both allows residents to personalize their own training and prioritizes evidence-based care and health equity for patients,” Shi said. “I can't wait to move back to the Bay Area and serve the community I grew up in.”

A full match list for Warren Alpert Medical School’s soon-to-be Class of 2022 graduates is available on the school’s website.