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Burrell medical students matched with residencies


Each year, on the third Friday in March, medical students preparing to graduate join tens of thousands of others across the country in finding out where they will be placed for their residency programs.

Over 100 fourth-year students at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in Las Cruces joined the Match Day festivities this year, all opening envelopes revealing their matches simultaneously on Friday, March 15. 

The event was held in a banquet hall at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, which hummed Friday with the students’ excitement and their loved ones’ anticipation.

A countdown ended with gasps and shouts of joy as everyone opened their envelope to reveal where they would be spending the next few years. Student doctors were placed in national and local programs, including in Las Cruces. 

Match Day is part of the National Resident Matching Program, which provides a standardized pairing of programs to medical students — both doctor of medicine (MD) and doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) students. According to the NRMP website, over 44,000 medical students applied to be matched this year, along with nearly 6,400 residency programs. 

According to a news release from BCOM, the residency matching process begins in September of the student’s final year of medical school. They first apply to residency programs in their specialties and then interview with the programs over the rest of the fall semester. By February, students rank their program preferences while program directors rank the students they are interested in training. 

NRMP takes the rankings into consideration and students and programs are matched via a mathematical algorithm. 

William Pieratt, dean and chief academic officer at BCOM, explained that residencies can take between three and seven years to complete, depending on the specialty. Family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics typically take three years while areas such as neurosurgery and plastic surgery take seven years, with other subspecialties landing somewhere in the middle. 

After completing the residency program, these student doctors will be able to practice medicine independently, he said. He added that Match Day is second only to graduation for these medical students.

Adrian Campos, 27, was born and raised in Las Cruces, attended New Mexico State University for his undergraduate degree and is now preparing to graduate from BCOM and begin his family medicine residency at Memorial Medical Center. 

“It's finally coming to an end, but the real work’s about to start,” Campos said of his medical education. “I’m all about community medicine. I’m all about helping the community out in any way possible and this is the perfect school to do that.” 

Campos explained that he has always had the mindset of remaining in and helping the people of his community. Memorial Medical Center was his first choice for residency program, which will allow him to remain close to his wife, Valerie, and their son, Abram. 

“I hope to be a family doctor that can practice a wide range of things so that way … patients don't have to wait for months on end for a simple procedure or be transferred over or sent over to El Paso or Albuquerque. It can all be done here in town,” Campos said. 

Students Analekha Chesnick, 26, and William Weissinger, 29, are also interested in remaining in the southwest. Weissinger is from Illinois but Chesnick is from Tucson, and both completed their rotations at hospitals in the Four Corners area. 

The two students were couples matched to HealthONE hospitals outside of Denver – Chesnick for family medicine and Weissinger for neurology.

Before opening their envelopes, the couple spoke of nervous excitement about finding out where they were going to “put down roots” over the next several years. Afterwards, they were excited and relieved to find out they were placed with their first choices for programs.

However, their goal remains to practice in the rural southwest, where they have seen a need for doctors to fill gaps in care.

“That's always been a dream of mine, just to serve the community,” Chesnick said. “We saw the gap of care (during our rotations) and we just wanted to pursue a training in the southwest because we're hoping to stay here long term. … It’s so special because there’s so much rich culture and things to learn from your patients out there. So it’s really just like a lot of personal growth and it’s beautiful to learn from a different community and feel like a part of something.”

Weissinger added that learning in these rural communities is where he “fell in love with neurology.”

“There aren’t many neurologists within many, like, two-hour radiuses of where these individuals live, so that’s something we want to give back to the area — provide this care that they didn’t have access to prior,” he said. 

Pieratt added that it is always nice to see another class of students move through the program and get matched to a residency, but this year was particularly meaningful for him. He joined Burrell in 2020, the same time these students started medical school, still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It's like we tell them: Days are long, but the years fly by,” he said. 

Leah Romero is a freelance reporter based in southern New Mexico. She can be reached at 575-418-3442 or Leah.R.Romero@gmail.com. 

Burrell College, Match Day, medical students