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'Match Day': Case Western Reserve University medical students learn where they will have residencies

22 percent of 200 CWRU students matched will stay in Cleveland through residencies at University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth.

CLEVELAND — They’ve finished four years of undergrad, and four years of medical school, but sitting still for a few more seconds on Match Day proves equally tough.

Inside those envelopes are these aspiring physicians’ next steps.

“I matched at Yale in OBGYN and I’m ecstatic. I’m so excited,” said Akailah Mason Otey.

“I got my number one choice, which was Rainbow Babies’ and Children’s. I’m from Cleveland, so I wanted to stay in Cleveland and give back to the community that invested in me,” said Suhib Jamal, who’ll start his pediatric residency in July.

In fact, 22 percent of 200 students matched will stay in Cleveland through residencies at University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth.

The National Resident Matching Program pulls data from ranked lists of the soon-to-be graduates with open residency program spots across the country. 

Jamal is also the third-ever Edwards Scholar, chosen as a Cleveland Metropolitan Schools graduate for a full eight-year scholarship to Case Western. 

“One of the [CMSD] schools, first opened my eyes that being a physician was even possible,” he said. “ If you’re interested in helping others, and really seeing humanity as its best, when people are at their worst, then medicine is right field to be in.”

The pandemic has exacerbated demands on healthcare workers, as well as physician shortages. 

In it’s annual report out each June, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of up to 48-thousand primary care doctors and 77-thousand specialists. They say COVID will have an impact, on top of an aging doctor workforce and a growing population of older Americans. 

“We’ve had about a 40 percent increase in the number of students around the country now interested in medicine as a career,” said Dean Stan Gerson, M.D.

Dr. Gerson says respect and interest aren’t the problem – it’s space. The CWRU School of Medicine is only able to accept about 5 percent of applicants.

“We’re at a bottleneck. We can’t increase the number of physicians that we train, because there’s not a residency program for them to go to. We’re actually concerned about that. We want that to expand because the need for medical care is increasing,” he said. 

Dr. Gerson says Case and other schools are calling on Congress to increase the number of residencies at teaching hospitals, currently capped by Medicare funding.

Akailah Mason Otey says she’s constantly encouraging others to consider healthcare.

“Especially minorities, who are interested in the healthcare field. I think it’s so important. Because the numbers are so so low and I think that representation is so needed,” she said. 

“It’s a grind for sure, but it feels a lot more joyful because you see how the knowledge that you’re learning impacts your patients,” said George Zhou, who will study anesthesiology.  “A lot of work, it’s tiring, but hey, it pays off.”

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