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Rosalind Franklin University Celebrates Match Day

Rosalind Franklin University fourth-year medical and podiatric medical students joined thousands of their peers across the nation on Friday, March 18, in celebrating Match Day, the annual rite of passage when they learn where they will spend their medical and surgical residency training.

The Chicago Medical School (CMS) and Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine (SCPM) continue an excellent record of successful residency placement, with 97% and 100% respective match rates. While CMS students gathered virtually and Scholl College students visited campus for an in-person event, both cohorts celebrated their achievement in the face of two years of pandemic restrictions.

Members of the Class of 2022 were on the verge of transitioning to the third year of their programs when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Students were confronted with major adjustments demanded by COVID safety protocols, including hybrid learning, online and limited in-person clinical rotations, and virtual residency interviews. Deans of both CMS and Scholl College praised the resilience of their fourth-year students.

“In the face of a deadly pandemic, CMS students remained resolute and focused not only on their own education and academic progression, but on serving our community,” said CMS Dean Archana Chatterjee, MD, PhD.

CMS students volunteered to support COVID vaccination clinics and field phone calls from patients who needed health education on COVID. Early in the pandemic, they joined fellow students from Chicago area medical schools to provide much-needed PPE to hospitals and clinics.

“Guided by our world-class faculty and staff, our students have excelled in academics, research and community service,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “Our Match Day results are a testament to our faculty, staff and students’ efforts. Our graduating students stand on the brink of fulfilling their calling — a lifelong commitment to caring for others. We are incredibly proud of them and extend our heartfelt congratulations to their families, friends and of course, our wonderful graduating class.”

Scholl College students also quickly adapted to remote learning and assessment, telemedicine, and training in the necessary hands-on skills in small, socially-distant groups.

“Our students not only progressed well in their education without skipping a beat but continued their dedication to serving the community by volunteering at various COVID efforts in the greater Chicagoland area,” said Scholl College Dean Stephanie Wu, DPM, MSc, FACFAS. Dr. Wu called attention to Niral Patel, MS, SCPM ’22, who co-founded Fabric Medical with a team that included SGPS students and Northwestern University engineers to repurpose existing textile manufacturing facilities to produce N95 respirators, with the goal of providing medical equipment to organizations in need.

“Our Match results speak to how well our faculty and curriculum prepare students to be well-rounded podiatric physicians,” Dr. Wu said. “They are also a testament to the resilient, competent and compassionate podiatric physicians our students will be when they begin residency training in July and continue their journey as medical professionals.”

The Clinical Psychology PhD program in the College of Health Professions celebrated a seventh consecutive 100% match rate for internship placements, with students matching to American Psychological Association-accredited programs across the country. The national match rate for PhD clinical psychology doctoral programs is 94%.

“Our students worked so hard throughout their studies with us, and this is a clinical culmination of that hard work,” said Tamara Goldman Sher, PhD, professor and director of clinical training. “It is with great pride and just a touch of sadness that we send them off to the next phase of their professional journey, because their wisdom and experience will be missed.”

The College of Pharmacy also participates in a match process. A significant number of graduates pursue residency training, even though it’s not a requirement.

“Residency positions are limited in number across the country and very competitive,” said COP Interim Dean Scott Hanes, PharmD. “We celebrate the members of the Class of 2022 and alumni who reached their professional goal of obtaining a residency or fellowship alongside their classmates who have pursued employment opportunities and accepted positions immediately following graduation."

The virtual celebration for CMS students and their friends and families included a photo montage representing students’ experience as part of the RFU-CMS community. Speakers included Dean Chatterjee; Dr. Gordon Pullen, associate dean for basic science education, who is retiring at the end of this academic year; and Class Council President Ashley Schaefer.

CMS fourth-years matched into 26 different specialties at top programs around the nation, including Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois; McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; University of Chicago Medical Center; University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago; Emory University in Atlanta; Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania; New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City; Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania; Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, New Jersey; and UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Scholl College students also matched to top residencies at health systems that include Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago; Boston University Medical Center in Boston; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, Michigan; Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah; Montefiore Medical Center in New York City; Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center in Santa Clara, California; and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

Lisandra Ochoa, MS ’17, MPH, and Timothy Cheung, PhD ’20, MS, CPT, are headed to opposite coasts. Ms. Ochoa matched into pediatrics at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Cheung matched to a podiatric medical and surgical residency at Yale-

New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. Both have made a big impact on their fellow students and the RFU learning environment through tutoring, leadership and community service. Both are inspired by immigrant grandparents. Both are models of resilience and perseverance.

Ms. Ochoa sees a fellowship in pediatrics in her future.

“I'm excited about what’s to come, about finally starting my training to be a doctor,” she said. “Because I'm fulfilling not just my dream, but the dream of my whole family. Getting to this day has been a huge project, and everyone had a part. My mom sending me here with my grandparents. My grandparents and my uncles and aunts. They all took care of me, and they all believed in me. I was the first person in my whole family to go to college. And now I'm going to be the first doctor in my family.”

Dr. Cheung, who enrolled in Scholl College in 2015, has excelled in the arduous dual degree DPM/PhD program, completing his doctor of philosophy in cell biology and anatomy under the mentorship of Hongkyun Kim, PhD. He continued the DPM program while fulfilling broad commitments to academic tutoring, community service initiatives and student leadership — including organizing the All School Research Consortium from 2017 to 2019.

“RFU definitely lifts you up,” he said. “As a new student, I mentioned my interest in the DPM/PhD to a faculty member and I entered the track at the end of my second year. The opportunities kept coming, and I kept pursuing them. Mentors were constantly looking out for me.”

Ms. Ochoa emigrated from Mexico at age 6 to live with her grandparents in Stockton, California. Her grandmother was a curandera, a folk medicine practitioner and midwife.

“I grew up seeing that holistic style of medicine and developed a passion for healing and helping people,” said Ms. Ochoa, who did well academically at UC Davis while working nearly full time as a Starbucks barista.

“I had to pay rent and provide for family back home,” she said. “But I really enjoy learning. Giving back to the community, including the RFU community by tutoring, really keeps me motivated.”

The recipient of numerous awards for service and scholarship during her years at RFU, Ms. Ochoa is a member of the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which recognizes students, residents and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and serve as role models of the human connection in healthcare. She has served on the CMS Healthcare Disparities and Equity in Medical Education Task Force, as vice president of the Latino/a Medical Student Association and as a tutor for RFU’s peer tutoring and Underrepresented in Medicine tutoring programs.

Dr. Cheung’s first priority in residency is to master surgical skills. His goal is to become a podiatric surgeon-scientist — the embodiment of what is known as the ‘triple threat’: a surgeon, researcher and educator.

In a 2021 profile in APMA News, Dr. Cheung, a second-generation American who grew up just outside of Boston, named his grandfather as his biggest hero.

“He helped Chinese immigrants learn English, gave them shelter and offered job opportunities to get them started in America,” Dr. Cheung said. “He had a profound impact on the community, and I’d like to be like that someday.”

Dr. Cheung was winding-up his PhD when COVID-19 restrictions were mandated. He and his classmates continued to deal with pandemic effects, including changes at health systems that caused short notice on clerkships.

“We all experienced it,” he said. “You just have to be very flexible and have the mentality that things will change, and you just have to roll with it.”

Posted March 18, 2022
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