TouroCOM Students Celebrate Match Results at Safe Distances

Glimmer of Positivity During Coronavirus Outbreak

March 31, 2020

On March 20, TouroCOM Harlem and TouroCOM Middletown students celebrated taking the next step in their medical journey as they matched to their medical residency programs. The challenging circumstances brought on by the coronavirus epidemic meant there was no big school-wide celebration this year, but even that couldn't dim the excitement of this milestone moment. Keeping in mind social distancing and precautionary measures, students held small—and online—celebrations and the joyful tears and smiles and screams were shared with family and friends. The class continued TouroCOM’s strong tradition of high match rates—with more than 96 percent of students matching into graduate medical education programs.

Students described their euphoria during the otherwise challenging time brought on by Corvid-19 as well as the reasons why they chose their specialty and residency location. Students also described small celebrations either held virtually with family members or in-person with a partner or spouse.

“I was in shock,” said Maria Brynes, who landed a prestigious neurology residency at the Cleveland Clinic for Neurology. Byrnes, who began at TouroCOM Middletown master’s program, was drawn to neurology when her brother was diagnosed with epilepsy. Byrnes and her fiancé, a fellow TouroCOM Middletown student, drove out to her family in Beacon and celebrated with them while abiding by social distancing.

“I felt that Cleveland Clinic had a family atmosphere,” Brynes said about her choice. “They really stressed that they wanted to not only teach residents but consider them an important part of their institution.”

“I started crying like a baby,” laughed TouroCOM Harlem’s Hector Zelaya who matched to a pediatrics program at NYU Winthrop. “All these years of hard work are finally coming to fruition. It’s pretty much all your hopes and dreams coming true—all the hard work, late nights and sacrifices—they finally paid off.”

“When I found out that I matched in my top choice hospital words failed me. I grew up on Long Island and my family lives there. They’re everything to me. To serve in the community I grew up in is such an honor.”

Zelaya isn’t the only student to be returning home. TouroCOM Harlem’s Khanh Truong is returning to his family in Texas after matching in a family medicine program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“I’m the first person in my family to be a doctor,” said Truong. “Words cannot describe it. I feel very overwhelmed with emotion that I can be close with my family and train at one of the best programs in the nation.”

Students from both schools matched at hospitals including New York Presbyterian; NYU Winthrop Orange Regional Medical Center; Yale New Haven Hospital; Staten Island University Hospital, Hackensack Meridian Palisades Hospital, Boston University Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Morningside; Stonybrook Teaching Hospital; Montefiore Medical Center, NY; Hackensack University Medical Center; Georgetown University Hospital; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Maimonides Medical Center; and Walter Reed National Medical Center.

TouroCOM Middletown student Maksim Vaysman matched in orthopedic surgery at Nassau University Medical Center. “It’s kind of surreal,” he admitted. “You work for something for so long and you finally achieve your dream.”

TouroCOM Harlem’s Maxwell Horowitz plans to follow the footsteps of his father, an endocrinologist. He’ll be starting with an internal medicine residency at Mt. Sinai Morningside-West, a hospital he is familiar with from his rotations. “I had a great experience with interns and residents and physicians,” said Horowitz, who plans to specialize afterwards in endocrinology. “New York is one of the best epicenters; the population is so diverse, even ranging from the two hospitals in the Mt. Sinai network, we see remarkably different populations.”

TouroCOM Harlem students Stephanie Morales and Brandon Chavez have been a couple since the second year of med school and they celebrated together. Morales matched in pediatrics in Staten Island Hospital while Chavez landed an emergency medicine residency at the University of Buffalo Hospital.

“All those sleepless nights, all the sacrifices, it’s all worth it,” said Morales.

TouroCOM Middletown’s Maisie Orsillo matched to Primary Care-Internal Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital.  Her significant other, a student at Stony Brook School of Medicine, matched into Yale as well. She offered the following advice for TouroCOM students applying to residency. “As cheesy as it sounds, don’t put limits on yourself,” Orsillo explained. “As students in medicine we tend to second guess ourselves, and that’s important because we never want to make a mistake with a patient. However, when it comes to applying to residency, students should dream big.”

TouroCOM Harlem student Ben Nguyen, who matched in Internal Medicine at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, said he couldn’t help thinking the celebration was bittersweet.

“After four years of medical school, I finally matched in Internal Medicine at one of my top choices. It was an incredible feeling knowing all my hard work finally paid off.” said Nguyen. “However, I was disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to spend Match Day with all my classmates and professors. If graduation is canceled, we might not see each other again before residency starts. The best part of TouroCOM has always been the students and professors. I’m going to miss them.”