After four arduous years of medical school, 88 graduating students from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine found out Friday, March 20, where they will serve their medical residencies.
Friday was Match Day 2020, when thousands of graduating medical students across the country found out where they will continue their training.
Normally, Match Day involves a big gathering with family and friends, but those plans were changed nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foster School of Medicine graduates were notified of their matches via email and honored on social media.
The class of 2020 includes 16 medical students who matched to residency programs in El Paso; 15 of those matched with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. This is just shy of the record 18 Foster School of Medicine students who matched to residencies in El Paso in Spring 2019.
Medical residents often remain in the region in which they are trained, so this is a good sign for fulfilling the Foster School of Medicine’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the El Paso region.
Richard D. Brower, M.D., interim associate dean in the Foster School of Medicine’s Office of Student Affairs, said Foster School of Medicine students are heading into highly competitive specialties and prestigious programs nationwide.
“This year’s residency match outcomes for the Foster School of Medicine are outstanding,” Brower said. “We couldn’t be more proud of this graduating class, and we wish them continued success and happiness. These students are preparing to graduate and advance into residency under extraordinary circumstances related to a global viral pandemic — circumstances fraught with uncertainty and concern. Yet, we are confident in their preparation and know that they will rise to the challenges ahead.”
Brower said 53% of this year’s graduates matched to residencies in Texas, and 57% will enter residencies in primary care specialties.
For Natalia Luna, who is from El Paso, the opportunity to do her residency at TTUHSC El Paso means the world to her.
“It means that I get to stay home, with my family and pets, where I know I will have lots of support,” said Luna, who will train in a psychiatry residency. “I already know my future coworkers, so I know that I will work very well with them. I also get along with my classmates who matched with me, so I’m excited.”
Jacob Winters, president of the Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2020, matched into the ophthalmology program at the University of Pittsburgh.
“While this is a time of many mixed emotions — nervousness, excitement, pride — we are ultimately humbled to embark on this next adventure and honored to assume the title of ‘physician’ for our patients,” Winters said. “Our class is beyond grateful for the support of the El Paso community that many of us will continue to serve for years to come.”
From 2009 to 2019, the number of doctors in El Paso grew by 51 percent, from 1,068 to 1,613, according to the most recent data available. A major turning point for El Paso’s health care system occurred when the first class of 40 students was admitted into the Foster School of Medicine. The medical school has graduated more than 520 students since its opening.
When the Foster School of Medicine opened, there was a 75% shortage of physicians in El Paso compared to the national average. Since that time, the shortage has been reduced to 50%.
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.