After four challenging years of medical school – which included a pandemic that changed their very way of life and hospital setting – graduating students from the Foster School of Medicine found out Friday, March 19, where they will serve their medical residencies.
Friday was Match Day 2021 nationwide, where thousands of graduating medical students across the country found out where they will continue their training.
Eleven Foster School of Medicine students and a preliminary number of 91 medical students from institutions around the world matched with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) residency programs. A preliminary number of 15 residents will do their fellowships at TTUHSC El Paso programs.
All 91 members of the Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2021 matched to residency programs across the nation. This includes 13 medical students who matched to residencies in El Paso; 11 of those matched with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
For the first time, Match Day included residency matches with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso’s Transmountain clinical practice, a collaboration between The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus and TTUHSC El Paso. TTP El Paso is the medical practice of the Foster School of Medicine.
Medical residents often remain in the region where they are trained, so matching to El Paso residencies helps fulfill the Foster School of Medicine’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the region.
Normally, Match Day involves a big indoor gathering with family and friends, but those plans were reimagined by the students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Foster School of Medicine graduates found out where they matched during an outdoor ceremony in a TTUHSC El Paso parking lot. At precisely 10 a.m., students opened their match day envelopes in or just outside their vehicles with their families.
Some students took part in Match Day virtually, opening their email with family at home. On campus, attendees wore face masks and adhered to social distancing guidelines to ensure safety during the exciting event.
New residency programs this year include the internal medicine and psychiatry residency programs at The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus, as part of a partnership that will help expand the Foster School of Medicine’s training capacity, as well as improve access to health care in the region.
Family medicine and OB-GYN programs at The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus will be added in 2021. All programs at TTUHSC El Paso and The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus will provide residents unique clinical training experiences and opportunities for research and scholarly activities.
The new residencies are critical for expanding the Foster School of Medicine’s capacity to train specialist physicians. In time, The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso (the clinical arm of the Foster School of Medicine) will offer up to 100 new resident positions at the West El Paso site.
El Pasoan Eryn Pynes was shocked and full of joy to be doing her residency in psychiatry at The Hospitals of Providence Transmountain Campus.
“They always tell you that the best program is wherever you match, but I’m really, really glad that the program I matched to is the one in psychiatry at Transmountain. It was my first choice, and I was really hoping I’d get in and that was the name in my envelope.”
One of the reasons Eryn chose Transmountain was because, “there is opportunity to help shape it and make it as great as it can be and know that it’s going to be phenomenal.”
El Pasoan Cynthia Maldonado, joined by her husband Daniel and their sons, Oliver, 5, and Ezra, 7 months, opened her envelope to learn she matched with TTUHSC El Paso’s family medicine residency program.
Daniel excitedly took Oliver by the hands and spun around, saying, “We’re staying. We’re staying. We’re staying.”For Cynthia, staying in El Paso means that she’ll be able to give back to her community.
“I love my community. I love El Pasoans,” she said. “I just feel such a deep connection to the people here. So, for me, it was really difficult to picture going elsewhere.”
Cynthia said going to medical school during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging.
“I’ve been grateful to help when I can, and I want to continue helping even more,” Cynthia said. “I’m in a position where I’m just grateful to help others. Seeing how COVID-19 affected families in our community has been heart-wrenching.”
More than 10 years ago, prior to the opening of the Foster School of Medicine, El Paso County’s average number of direct care physicians per 100,000 people was 75% less than the national average. Currently, the county faces a 50% shortage.
Since 2009, El Paso County has grown its number of direct care physicians from 844 to 1,325, a 57% increase and a direct result of having a four-year medical school in the area.
Currently, 612 graduates of the Foster School of Medicine have become or are on their way to becoming practicing physicians.
The medical school is named for El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster, who donated $50 million to help create the school. His gift also has funded the tuition of more than 140 medical students, known as the Foster Scholars.
One of the missions of the Foster School of Medicine and TTP El Paso is to offer services from a variety of subspecialty providers, to help local families avoid the expense of traveling outside the city for specialized health care services.