Record Number of Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Students to Serve Residency in El Paso

After four arduous years of medical school, 99 Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) students found out Friday where they will serve their medical residencies.

The class of 2019 included a record 16 medical students who were matched with residencies in El Paso.

“Residents often remain in the region in which they are trained, so this is a good sign for fulfilling the PLFSOM’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the El Paso region,” school officials shared via a news release.

Friday was known as Match Day, and thousands of graduating medical students across the country gathered in similar ceremonies, waiting to simultaneously open their envelopes and find out where they will train.

Jesus Guzman was one of those excited and grateful to find out he will serve his residency in El Paso. Guzman grew up in the Segundo Barrio, graduated from Bowie High School, and will now serve a residency in internal medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

“My family was so nervous because we were all wishing and praying for me to stay in El Paso,” Guzman said. “We’re so blessed. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Guzman hadn’t considered a career in medicine until a chance encounter after graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. He started working at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso and happened to witness the inaugural PLFSOM White Coat Ceremony at the Chamizal Theater.

The ceremony welcomes first-year medical students into the profession by cloaking them with their first white coats.

“I was so inspired by the ceremony and by what the field of medicine meant — I just knew then and there that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Guzman said. “Now I get to be a resident here and help the community where I grew up.”

Jake Wilson, PLFSOM class of 2019 president, correctly predicted before the Match Day ceremony that there would be many students matching in El Paso. Wilson was matched to the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, in internal medicine.

“This is going to be a really interesting year, because I think we are going to have more people stay in El Paso,” Wilson said. “More people want to stay, or at least come back to El Paso, because we’ve fallen in love with El Paso. Regardless of where we end up, we’re taking what we learned in El Paso and spreading it across the country, and eventually I think we’re going to bring it back. This class has really embraced the patients and the community of El Paso. We’ve really loved it here.”

Roberto Solis and Roxana Mohhebali are engaged, and both graduated in the class of 2019. So, they were delighted to both be matched to the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California. Solis will be training in otolaryngology and Mohhebali in obstetrics-gynecology.

“We’re very excited,” Solis said. “There was a lot of anxiety and nervousness, because the unknown was scary, but now we’re very, very happy.”

El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster attended the ceremony for the first time Friday and afterward had lunch with 22 Foster Scholars who were matched to residencies. Foster donated $50 million to help create the PLFSOM, and his gift also has funded the tuition of more than 140 medical students, known as the Foster Scholars. The PLFSOM, which seated its first class in July 2009, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year.

Match Day comes after the students have spent the past six months applying to residencies, interviewing and deciding the order in which to rank programs they hope to be matched to, said Herb Janssen, Ph.D., interim associate dean of student affairs.

“Though the moments leading up to 10 a.m. on Match Day can be filled with tension, the moments right after are usually filled with joy,” Janssen said. “It’s always exciting to learn where our students will be going to continue their careers.”

Photo gallery courtesy PLFSOM