Medical students unveil Match Day destinations

by the UNMC public affairs staff | March 19, 2004

Editor's Note: See UNMC Today on Monday for more photos and a complete list of Match Day results.

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Joel and Karen Winner with daughter, Calla.
Joel Winner lived up to his name on Match Day.

The Lincoln native was all smiles Thursday when he announced he would be going to the University of Hawaii Affiliated Hospitals in Honolulu for his psychiatry residency.

On Thursday, Winner and 103 other members of the UNMC College of Medicine Class of 2004 learned where they would spend the next three to six years doing their residency training.

The students matched in 26 states across the country, from Hawaii to Pennsylvania and Washington to Texas. The majority - 38 percent - will remain in Nebraska, at least for their first year of residency. Overall, 60 percent will pursue primary care specialties.

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From left, Alex Cooper, Joe Carmody and Joel Winner with their Match Day letters.
Afterwards, Winner and his wife, Karen, said they were thrilled to be going to Hawaii along with their 2-year-old daughter, Calla. "We thought Hawaii was a long shot, as they get lots of applications because of their nice weather," Winner said. "Both of us are from Lincoln. We just wanted to do something different."

Winner said the Hawaii program takes only three residents from outside of Hawaii each year, and that he heard about 35 people interviewed for residency positions.

Employed once again

On Thursday, Joe Carmody of Omaha strode to the podium, opened his envelope and said: "This is pretty good. I haven't had a job since 1999." Carmody will do a psychiatry residency at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York.

Breaking ground

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Rob Zatechka with his son, Ryan.
In July, Chad Branecki, Brian Cunningham and Benjamin Fagot will become inaugural members of UNMC's new emergency medicine resident program. The fourth-year UNMC students will join two residents from the University of Utah and one resident from Emory University. In all, UNMC received approximately 80 applications for the six slots and interviewed about 40 applicants.

"Our match class was unbelievable," said Michael Wadman, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at UNMC. "We have a top notch group and, if they stay here, will be great for emergency medicine in Nebraska."

From football to medicine

At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Rob Zatechka of Lincoln calls himself "skinny." He was up to 320 pounds when he played football, first for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, then almost five years with the New York Giants and the Jacksonville Jaguars. During an ob/gyn rotation, the former offensive lineman says he met husbands who wanted to talk sports while their wives were in labor. Since he's chosen to specialize in anesthesia, his future patients won't have much time to talk sports. "You only have five to 10 minutes to get that person to trust you," he said.

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Matt Summers, left, and Keith Gautreaux.
Zatechka, who is president of his medical school class, will do his residency at UNMC. He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Brennan, 2, and Ryan, almost two months old, who he helped deliver.

Headed west

For Keith Gatreaux of Friend, Neb., and Matt Summers of Gibbon, Neb., Match Day had a happy ending - the two friends will be heading west to Colorado to do family medicine residencies through the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo.

Gatreaux got his undergraduate degree from Wayne State College, while Summers earned his undergraduate degree from Chadron State College. Both entered UNMC through the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP), a program that seeks to identify students who intend to practice medicine in rural communities when they complete their training. Both Gatreaux and Summers are interested in practicing in small communities.

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Allison Cushman-Vokoun with her husband, Chad.
"I'm excited to be going to Colorado with Matt and his wife (Stephanie). We've known each other since we started the RHOP program," Gatreaux said. "Omaha West is what I like to call Greeley. I like it a lot. When I went back for my interview, I locked my keys in the car. One of the residents there took two hours to help me try to unlock the door. I knew right then it was the place for me."

Perfect timing

Match Day was "perfect" for Allison Cushman-Vokoun of Omaha, who will be doing her pathology residency at UNMC. The M.D., Ph.D. student is married to Chad Vokoun, M.D., chief resident in UNMC's Department of Internal Medicine, who will have a full-time faculty position at UNMC next year.

"Omaha was the only place I wanted to go for my residency," Cushman-Vokoun said. "We've been on different schedules with me going through the M.D., Ph.D. program, but now the timing is perfect. He'll be starting his new faculty position, and I'll be starting my residency. It couldn't be better."

Highs and lows

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Joe and Cathy Todero with their daughter, Gina.
Sometimes the tears shed at Match Day are not tears of joy, but tears of disappointment. Such was the case for Gina Todero of Omaha, daughter of Joe and Cathy Todero, Ph.D., associate dean of the UNMC College of Nursing.

Todero was hoping to land her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughter in Norfolk, Va. Her boy friend, Casey Mangine, lives in Norfolk and is a pilot in the U.S. Navy. Instead, Todero found out she matched at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis.

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Kathleen Brennan, left, and Rachel Akerman review match day results.
"It's disappointing (not getting Norfolk)," Todero said, "but Tennessee has an excellent pediatrics program and Memphis is a great city, so we'll just have to make the most out of it."

Todero called Mangine after hearing she didn't match to Norfolk. Mangine planned to fly back to Omaha this weekend to provide moral support. Todero said she hopes to transfer to Norfolk after she finishes the first year of her three-year residency, noting that sometimes such requests are honored.

Mangine, a second lieutenant in the Navy, is scheduled to go to Iraq in January for a six-month stint flying Nighthawk helicopters. Todero and Mangine met last year when Mangine came to Omaha to visit his friend, Joe Mueller, a third-year medical student at UNMC.

Realizing goals

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Michael Borunda is bound for Columbus, Ohio.
Match Day is another turning point for Michael Borunda of Las Cruces, N.M. On Thursday, the former high school dropout and juvenile delinquent learned he would do his emergency medicine residency at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

After quitting school, Borunda eventually joined the U.S. Air Force, where he said he learned the benefits of taking personal responsibility for yourself and hard work; making sacrifices to reach your goals, and realizing that no matter what you'd done in the past, the present is an opportunity to choose a different path. He attended five different colleges as a part-time student during six years in the Air Force. He left the military and attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney as a full-time student, before entering medical school.

Calling Omaha - from Tanzania

Midway through the Match Day ceremony, Gerald Moore, M.D., associate dean of the College of Medicine, received a long-distance call from Tanzania from fourth-year medical students Nancy Parks and John Frerichs. The two, who are on vacation after finishing last month's elective course in South Africa, learned they would do surgical residencies, respectively, at the University of California-San Francisco/Fresno and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Family support

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Sherritta Toler with her husband, Damon, and son, Mason.
Sherritta Toler of Omaha says she was not mentally or academically prepared when she started medical school. As a result, she took the first year of medical school twice. But, with prayer and hard work she persevered, thanks in large part to the emotional, physical and financial support of her husband, Damon, a Douglas County corrections officer. Now, Toler is excited to begin her psychiatry residence at UNMC.

"Being married during medical school is difficult," Toler said. "It's almost as if you're cheating on your spouse because the other person dominating your life is a school."

The couple had a baby boy, Mason, on Jan. 11.

International medical missions

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From left, Jan Tompkins, clinical education coordinator, UNMC medical technology; Marc Tompkins; Christine Aita, M.D.; and Virginia Aita, Ph.D., assistant professor, UNMC Preventive & Societal Medicine.
Marc Tompkins has long dreamed of healing the world's sick. On Thursday, he learned he would begin his journey with an internal medicine residency at the University of Massachusetts.

In May, Tompkins, the son of a Grand Island physician and mother who teaches medical technology for UNMC, will marry Christine Aita, M.D., a 2002 graduate of the College of Medicine. After completing respective residencies, the couple anticipates joining Doctors without Borders or some other agency dedicated to medical service among the world's most traumatized populations. Eventually, they plan to return to Nebraska and raise a family.

Patience pays off
Nearly an hour passed before Michael Bauer learned his Match Day fate. In this case, being patient paid off for the Culbertson, Neb, native who walked away with a basket of money - courtesy of a UNMC tradition where each 'matching' medical student contributes $1. As the last match of the day, Bauer, who will do a surgical residency at Mount Carmel Health in Columbus, Ohio, claimed the prize.