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TouroCOM-Harlem Class of 2017 Celebrate Residency Matches

Students Match at Prestigious Hospitals Across USA

March 27, 2017

TouroCOM-Harlem student Norman Rafael Nicol found out on Friday that he matched at his top choice: Montefiore Medical Hospital in an internal care residency.

“It’s an amazing program,” he said. “Not only is every attending physician and resident brilliant, but they’re also so passionate. You can see it in their eyes.”

Nicol added that the joy in discovering that he matched to his top choice was only equaled by the news that his best friend, TouroCOM-Harlem student Jacob McLean, also matched in the same residency.

While TouroCOM students graduate with a doctor of osteopathic medical degree, they are eligible to apply for both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) residencies. Selections are based predominantly on student performance while on rotations at hospitals, as well as their national board scores. The osteopathic residency “matches” were made by the National Matching Services (NMS) in February and the allopathic matches by the. National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) last week. 

“Our students matched at incredibly prestigious hospitals,” said Dean Martin Diamond, interim dean at TouroCOM-Harlem. Citing TouroCOM’s commitment to serving the underserved, he pointed to several residencies that will take place in underserved communities. Dean Diamond also stressed the fact that more than 65 percent of TouroCOM students will be doing their residencies in primary care. In April, the Association of American Medical Colleges released a study that estimated there will be a shortfall of between 15,000-35,000 primary care physicians in the United States by 2025. “You can’t have a society that takes care of sick people without primary care,” he said.

The event was organized by TouroCOM-Harlem Student DO of the Year, Payal Aggarwal. She stood by a restaurant table handing out long-sleeve TouroCOM t-shirts that had two blank lines on the back, where students could write which hospital they were placed at and their specialty. Aggarwal also had reason to celebrate: she matched as a pediatric resident at Brooklyn Hospital. On Monday, before the announcement was made, she prayed with her parents at her family temple. “It’s surreal,” said Aggarwal. “It’s a dream that’s finally happening.”

For Aggarwal, this was only the first step though: after her pediatrics residency, she intends to do a second residency in pediatric oncology. This was also the reason why she chose Brooklyn Hospital. “They have a great placement record for oncology fellowships,” she explained.

Waiting for his t-shirt and a hug from Aggarwal, was Brian Barrett, who will be starting an anesthesiology residency at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

“TouroCOM really prepared me for my next step,” said Barrett who placed a TouroCOM t-shirt over a white button-down shirt (He drove in briefly for the celebration from a wedding).

The celebration was also a culmination of the decisions that TouroCOM students made throughout their studies. Kevin Lemaire landed a psychiatry residency at Orange Regional Hospital. He chose psychiatry because “there is a shortage of doctors taking care of mentally ill patients,” Lemaire explained. “If you can take care of a person’s mental state, they’re that much more likely to eventually be able to take care of themselves.”

Nearly all the TouroCOM students described the wait to find if they matched, be it a DO or MD residency, as nerve wracking. Neel Andharia found out she matched on March 13, and gathered with her fellow TouroCOM student on Friday to wait for the email that provided the details of the match.

“You keep refreshing your email,” said Andharia, “30 seconds make a huge difference.”

Andharia landed her top choice: an emergency medicine residency at Staten Island Hospital.

“I love that hospital,” she said. “The faculty is amazing and they’re incredible teachers.”

Daniel Barbash found out about his DO residency on February 6 at eight a.m. “The rest of the day was a blur,” he recalled. Barbash will be a general surgery resident at St. Joseph’s Hospital in New Jersey. His residency has an added bonus since his girlfriend, fellow TouroCOM student Nicole Webb, will be spending her residency in emergency medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center.

For families and significant others, the end of the matching process allowed them to plan out their next steps.

Tax attorney Keith Clarke, whose wife Cindy matched in a radiology residency at Hartford, Connecticut, said he was happy to be able to spend the next few years in New York. Cindy had the couple’s second child while in her fourth year of school.

“It’s really exciting to watch your wife pursue her dream,” said Clarke. “You see how a person’s passion develops into something worth fighting for.”

Jake Marika will be spending his residency in family medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital. “Family medicine is the future of medicine,” said Marika. “Comprehensive and preventative care is where medicine needs to go.”