‘Lucky’ Match Day for UA College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2017: Primary Care Residencies Win Largest Share of Students

The students opened Match Day envelopes Friday that revealed where they will go for residency training: nearly half of the class – 47 of 98 students – will pursue primary care, the most critical physician shortage in Arizona.

Tom Lotina, 52, and a fourth-year University of Arizona medical student, found out on Friday where his dream of becoming a physician will take him for his residency training in family medicine.

Lotina was one of 98 students in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2017 and other soon-to-graduate medical students across the nation who participated in National Resident Matching Program® ceremonies coordinated to occur at the same time. The ceremonies celebrate “Match Day,” the culmination of the complex process that matches graduating medical students with residency programs. At 1 p.m. Eastern Time, the students learned where they will spend the next several years as resident-physicians, the next step in building a medical career.

An overflow crowd of medical students, their parents, siblings, spouses and children gathered for the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Match Day ceremony in DuVal Auditorium at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. (View the archived video at streaming.biocom.arizona.edu)

Opening his Match Day envelope, Lotina found out that he matched with the University of Florida in Gainesville for his three-year family medicine residency. His top choices were the UF and UA family medicine residency programs, but he and his wife, Debbie, were hoping most of all for Gainesville.

"Debbie's family is in Florida," Lotina said Friday, "and that means she will have lots of support while I work all those long hours. I'll have five weeks of night rotation my first year."

Like most medical students, Lotina entered medical school with his eyes wide open. He worked for 15 years as an acupuncturist and yoga teacher, always keeping in mind his goal of becoming a physician. At 48, he enrolled in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2017 to fulfill this mission and never looked back. It was toward the end of his third year that he realized family medicine was the best fit for him. "I just want to focus now on becoming a really good doctor, in the clinic, in the inpatient setting and in the ER," he said.

Forty-eight percent of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2017 chose residencies in primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics), areas in which Arizona and the nation face serious shortages.

Several students matched into prestigious programs out of state, including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Baylor in Houston and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center among others.

“It’s such a satisfying feeling seeing the students’ hard work over the last four years come to fruition,” said Kevin Moynahan, MD, deputy dean for education at the college. “Match Day has such a high positive energy – looking around you see and hear tears and screams of joy. It is very meaningful for students to find out where they matched with their peers, friends and families present. It’s really a fantastic celebration of both hard work and a bright future. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!”

Resident-physicians undergo in-depth “on-the-job” training in their fields under the supervision of practicing faculty physicians. Residency programs vary in length from three years for internal medicine and family practice to eight years for the most specialized of surgeons. Most residencies will begin July 1.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), overall, 38.7 percent of medical and osteopathic students end up practicing in the same state where they received their undergraduate medical education. Notably, nearly half of Arizona medical school graduates end up practicing in state.

Highlights of UA College of Medicine – Tucson Class of 2017 Match Day

  • Forty-seven students matched into residencies in primary care fields:
    • 14 in family medicine
    • 19 in internal medicine
    • 12 in pediatrics
    • 2 in medicine-pediatrics (a four-year combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency).
  • Thirty graduates will complete their residencies in Arizona:
    • 14 in Phoenix
    • 15 in Tucson
    • 1 in Yuma

UA residency programs provide training in environments known for their diverse patient populations and exceptional faculty-to-resident ratios, and they are crucial in attracting and training doctors who will remain in Arizona.

  • Eleven students matched with the UA College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Program, which oversees 58 residency and fellowship programs in all major specialties and subspecialties and trains more than 600 residents and fellows at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and other major participating institutions in Tucson. The 11 students will pursue residencies in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, orthopedic surgery, pathology, pediatrics, psychiatry or surgery-preliminary.
  • Four students matched with the University of Arizona College of Medicine at South Campus graduate medical education program: three in emergency medicine, one in family medicine. The program oversees four residencies—in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine and ophthalmology—and one fellowship in medical toxicology, and trains approximately 80 residents, primarily at Banner – University Medical Center South with rotations throughout the state, including the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System and multiple rural and Indian Health Service locations. The program focuses on providing health care in rural and underserved areas of Arizona to help reduce the Arizona physician shortage and improve access to health care.

The 2017 Main Residency Match® was the largest in NRMP history. According to the NRMP®, a record-high 35,969 U.S. and international medical school students and graduates vied for 31,757 positions, the most ever offered in the Match. The number of available first-year (PGY-1) positions rose to 28,849, 989 more than last year.

Doctor of Medicine degrees will be conferred at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson convocation ceremony on Thursday, May 11.

About the National Resident Matching Program™

During the first half of their senior year, medical students apply for positions at residency programs, then interview with program directors, faculty and residents. In February, students submit their list of choices in order of preference—at the same time residency program directors submit their rank-ordered lists of preferred candidates—to the National Resident Matching Program™ (NRMP) headquarters in Washington, D.C. A computer matches each student to the residency program that is highest on the student’s list and that has offered a position to the applicant.

For couples participating in the NRMP, the match process is more challenging. In addition to each deciding on a specialty, they must coordinate their match lists, taking into consideration the distance between residency programs as they create and rank pairs of choices. The NRMP guarantees that both applicants will match at the highest-ranked combination in which both applicants have been accepted.

About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is advancing health and wellness through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research, and advancements in patient care in Arizona and across the United States. Founded in 1967, the College ranks among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care and is leading the way in academic medicine through its partnership with Banner – University Medicine, a new division of one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country. For more information: medicine.arizona.edu