The Big Day – Future Doctors Find Their Match at UA College of Medicine

For four years, students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix have worked toward “Match Day” – the day they learn where they will spend the next several years as resident-physicians, a major step in building a medical career.

 Match results are released nationally at Match Day ceremonies coordinated to occur on the same date at the same time. Beginning this year, Match Day moves from the third Thursday to the third Friday in March (results are released at 1 p.m. eastern time).

Both ceremonies also will be broadcast live and archived on the Internet at

Members of the Class of 2012 will receive traditional Match Day sealed envelopes, containing letters showing where they will go for their residency training, on Friday, March 16, at 10 a.m.

 The UA College of Medicine’s Match Day event will be held in Phoenix at the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium on the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix campus, 600 E. Van Buren St.

The UA College of Medicine Class of 2012 includes a total of 149 students who will graduate in May – 86 women and 65 men on the Tucson and Phoenix campuses. This will be the second Match Day for the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix; the class of 43 graduates includes 23 women and 20 men. The UA College of Medicine – Tucson class of 106 graduates includes 63 women and 43 men. (Doctor of Medicine degrees will be conferred at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix convocation ceremony on Wednesday, May 9, 3:30 p.m., at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, and at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson convocation ceremony on Friday, May 11, 3:30-6 p.m., in Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus, Tucson.)

Many of the graduates are expected to remain in Arizona for their residencies. Residency programs vary in length from three years for general medicine/family practice specialties to eight years for the most specialized of surgeons.

Match Day 3
Match envelopes dangle in a “cloud sculpture” in the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium at the College of Medicine–Phoenix. (Photo by Keven Siegert, Media Services, UA College of Medicine–Phoenix)

Twenty-four match envelopes were among those dangled in a “cloud sculpture” in the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium at the College of Medicine–Phoenix. (Photo by Keven Siegert, Media Services, UA College of Medicine–Phoenix)

This year’s Match Day ceremony at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix will feature a “cloud sculpture” of match envelopes dangling in the middle of the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium and surrounded by a red ribbon. At 10 a.m., Dean Stuart D. Flynn, MD, will cut the ribbon, allowing the class to find their match. Each student will step to the podium onstage, announce their location and place a pin to mark it on a map of the United States.

About Match Day and the National Resident Matching Program™

Match Day is the culmination of a complex year-long process that matches the nation’s graduating medical students with residency programs.

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™ ( 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.

About the UA College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Program and University of Arizona College of Medicine at South Campus (formerly UA/UPHK Graduate Medical Education Consortium)

The UA College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Program ( oversees 42 accredited residency programs in all major specialties and subspecialties. All of the programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which establishes exacting national standards for approval and assessment of graduate medical education programs. More than 500 residents and fellows are trained at the UA College of Medicine’s primary teaching hospital, The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus, and 14 other major participating institutions in Tucson.

The University of Arizona College of Medicine at South Campus ( (formerly the University of Arizona/UPHK Graduate Medical Education Consortium) has created six new residency programs and one fellowship. The programs are based primarily at The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus with rotations throughout the state, including the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System and the Indian Health Service. Accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has been received for residency programs in medicine and psychiatry, which began July 2008; ophthalmology and neurology, which began July 2009; and emergency medicine and family medicine, which began July 2010. The fellowship in medical toxicology was accredited in May 2011. Approximately 100 residents are participating in the new programs, which focus on providing health care in rural and underserved areas of Arizona to help reduce the Arizona physician shortage and improve access to health care throughout the state.

The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus is part of The University of Arizona Health Network ( Together, The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, the University of Arizona and The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus combine to care for patients, educate medical students, train physicians and conduct clinical research. The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus has more than 450 physicians (many listed in The Best Doctors In America), more than 800 nurses and more than 2,000 staff.

The UA College of Medicine has 22 departments and 10 centers on its Tucson and Phoenix campuses dedicated to specific areas of research, clinical care and teaching. Medical students and residents receive instruction from more than 1,200 full- and part-time salaried and affiliate faculty members; all faculty, including volunteer (associate) faculty, total more than 1,800.


Interesting 2012 UA medical graduates who will be available for interviews on Match Day include:


UA College of Medicine – Phoenix:

Daniel Churgin

Although it seems that Daniel Churgin, 27, was destined to end up in medicine, the path wasn’t always easy. The Mesa native has a physician and family nurse practitioner for parents and even has a veterinarian for a sister. But after applying to more than 30 medical school programs, Dan didn’t get one interview. That is, until he applied to the University of Arizona. “Being rejected and then waitlisted – feeling like I barely deserved to be here and like I was given a second chance to prove it – incited something in me that has never gone away,” he says.

As it turns out, Dan did just fine. An exemplary student, he was selected for the Gold Humanism Honor Society and achieved several goals, including placement in a prestigious ophthalmology residency program in Florida. He says the two happiest days of his life were receiving the acceptance calls from the College of Medicine – Phoenix and the residency program.

“It’s as if medicine was in my blood, our family trade,” Dan says. “I probably knew some medical terms before I knew normal words! Much later in life, I realized I wanted to be in a career where I could form lasting relationships with people, and help them through a difficult or intimidating experience in life. I loved science and I wanted to be part of the evolution of medical discovery. So this career path just made sense to me; it was, and still is, the perfect fit.”

Dan will do his residency at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami after a year of internal medicine training. But he hopes to return to Arizona and possibly specialize in surgery or ocular oncology.

Dan earned a bachelor of science in microbiology with minors in Spanish, chemistry and business administration from the UA. While at the College of Medicine – Phoenix, he joined the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the American Medical Student Association.

EDITORS NOTE: Ophthalmology is an early match and results are known in January. Most ophthalmology residency programs begin in post-graduate year 2 (PGY-2) after the completion of 12 months of broad clinical training (PGY-1). Ophthalmology positions are offered through the Common Application Service (CAS) run by the San Francisco Match. The Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program (OMP) ( coordinates PGY-2 appointments for ophthalmology programs and supplements the NMRP’s PGY-1 services.


Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams, 33, has had plenty of distractions in the four years of medical school. It all started when she began studying for the entrance exam, with her 4-month-old daughter in her lap. “I am a non-traditional student and hadn’t been in a physics or chemistry class for almost 10 years,” she says. “I had to relearn everything that I had forgotten. With some hard work and a little luck everything worked out.”


Danielle had a second child (now 2) while in medical school but is finishing on time and plans to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology. Born in Long Beach, Calif., Danielle has lived in Phoenix, attending Horizon High School before embarking on her collegiate career at Georgia State University in Atlanta and University of Western States in Portland, Ore., where she earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. With family in Arizona and Colorado, Danielle says she envisions practicing in either place.


Billie Winegard

Billie Winegard, 35, is completing a long road to earning her medical degree – one that began halfway around the world and included a medical fight of her own. Originally from Sierra Vista in Southern Arizona but born in Seoul, South Korea, Billie says she has always thought of medicine as a career but didn’t apply to medical school over fear of not being able to get in. “Then, I was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” she says. “After having that experience, I knew I couldn’t let my fear keep me from something that I felt I was meant to become. So I got ready and I applied and here I am two months from becoming a physician.”

Billie isn’t choosing an easy path now that she is completing medical school. She has applied for residency programs in pediatrics but says she would like to pursue a fellowship in palliative medicine. “I want to work with children and families who are experiencing serious and life-limiting conditions. The death of a child is a terrible thing, but I hope to be able to provide support and some comfort as families go through this process.”

She believes she will end up in Arizona – close to her family – and where she earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and molecular and cellular biology and a master’s degree in public health,  all from the UA.

A member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, Billie is setting the example in her family. She was the first in her family to graduate from college and her sisters and cousins were the first generation to complete high school.

A look at some of the 2012 UA medical graduates who will be opening envelopes on Match Day:
UA College of Medicine – Tucson:
Brad Askam and Elizabeth Lee
A growing number of couples are participating in the National Resident Matching Program™ (NRMP). For applicants who participate as a couple, 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. Communication and compromise are key – and good practice for any relationship! The NRMP guarantees that both applicants will match at the highest-ranked combination in which both applicants have been accepted.
Brad Askam and Elizabeth Lee are among the couples in the UA College of Medicine Class of 2012. They met in medical school and married during the spring break of their third year. Brad plans to pursue a residency in orthopaedic surgery and Liz plans to pursue a residency in general surgery. Their parents will be with them as they open their Match Day envelopes to find out where they match.
Brad, 27, is a Tucson native and graduate of Salpointe Catholic High School. He graduated from the UA in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology. As an undergraduate, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and largest academic honor society in the United States. He decided to pursue medicine after working as an x-ray technician at Tucson Orthopedic Institute, where he became interested in orthopaedic surgery. During medical school, Brad was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA), the only national medical honor society, the “Phi Beta Kappa for medical schools,” founded in 1902. Election to AOA is a lifelong honor, signifying a lasting commitment to scholarship, leadership, professionalism and service. An only child, Brad will be the first physician in his family, but not the first to work in the health-care field: his mother is a transcriptionist with the radiation oncology department at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and his father is the chief executive officer of Desert Cardiology Group. Both are UA graduates.
Elizabeth (Liz), 28 (but only 9 months older than Brad), is a Tucson native and graduate of Catalina Foothills High School. The oldest of three children (her brothers both are architects), she spent a lot of time as a child in her physician-father’s office and knew that she wanted to be a nurse, physician assistant or doctor. Her mother also works in health care as a medical coder for the pediatrics department at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus. As an undergraduate, Liz was a member of the Arizona Surgery Club for pre-health undergraduate students and medical students. After graduating from the UA in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a minor in chemistry and Spanish, she attended a few semesters at the UA College of Nursing before deciding to pursue a career in medicine. Liz participated in the UA College of Medicine’s Rural Health Professions Program, in which medical students work side-by-side with rural Arizona physicians, and was mentored for 11 weeks total in Flagstaff during the summer of 2009 with Cynthia Martin, MD, at her internal medicine and pediatrics practice, and the summer of 2010 with Charles Smith, MD, family physician at North Country HealthCare.
Natasha Bhuyan
Natasha Bhuyan, 26, is a native of Phoenix and a graduate of Desert Vista High School. She plans to pursue a residency in family medicine with a fellowship in geriatrics.
As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, she aspired to be a journalist and served as news editor for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She was drawn to medicine, however, by her experiences as a volunteer with Odyssey Hospice in Tucson; as a counselor for the UA College of Medicine’s Maricopa Med-Start (the UA College of Medicine’s summer program that encourages rural, minority and economically disadvantaged Arizona high school students to pursue health-care careers) in Phoenix; and working with children at Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, a resource for those impacted by serious illness or death. After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology, she spent a year volunteering through AmeriCorps with homeless patients in Denver, Colo.
During medical school, she volunteered nearly 200 hours with the college’s Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program, including serving as coordinator of two CUP programs: ArtWorks, a local art therapy program for adults with developmental disabilities, and MSAPP (Medical Students at Planned Parenthood).
Through the Arizona Geriatric Education Center’s Interprofessional Senior Mentor Program (part of the Arizona Center on Aging at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson), she befriended several older adults. As president of the college’s Geriatrics Interest Group, she organized the Aging for Specialists Medical Student Conference, which was attended by 120 students. “Increasing the number of health-care professionals who are willing to provide quality, patient-centered care to older adults should be a priority,” she says.
She is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, an initiative of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation that recognizes individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care. She is on the national board of directors for Medical Students for Choice®, an international organization of medical students and residents dedicated to making reproductive health care, including abortion, part of standard medical education and residency training. As vice president of MedPride, a UA College of Medicine student club that promotes awareness of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) issues in health care, she organized events such as the NOH8 Campaign for marriage equality and volunteered with Tucson Pride, an organization that produces events for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. For her leadership efforts, she won the national American Medical Association Foundation Leadership Award in 2010.
She did her third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. Her activities also included serving as a member of the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians.
The only other doctor in her family is a cousin in India. Her parents moved to the United States from Assam, India, in the 1970s. Her father attended Arizona State University and recently retired from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Her sister also attended ASU and is a sixth-grade teacher in Phoenix. Natasha’s family will be with her as she opens her match envelope.
After her residency and fellowship, she plans to practice in Phoenix, the city she loves. “I aim to advocate for patients who often don’t have a voice in medicine: the economically underserved, older adults, people with developmental disabilities, LGBTQ patients and women.”
She credits her mother’s support and encouragement for her achievements. “I would be nowhere without my mom,” she says. “She taught me the values I live by today: love all, serve all.”
Brandon Coakley
Brandon Coakley, 26, is a native of Grand Junction, Colo. He plans to pursue a residency in dermatology.
Brandon is a graduate of Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit high school in Phoenix, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., where he majored in biochemistry with a minor in business.”It was incredible to extend the Jesuit tradition to my undergraduate education,” he notes.
After college, he worked for a year in Phoenix on health-care legislation before applying to medical school. This sparked a growing interest in public policy. “I realized that physicians can help one person at a time, but public policy changes can help millions,” he says. At the UA College of Medicine, he started the Society of Medical Economics, a student organization that looks at the intersection of health-care delivery, finance and public policy. “We brought in guest speakers such as Denise Cortese, past CEO of Mayo Clinic, to discuss health-care system design. Advocacy for better health-care policy has been a weakness of physicians in America and I hope to change that trend.”
The oldest of three siblings, Brandon will be the first physician in his family, but not the only family member in the health-care field. His sister, Jenna, is a pre-nursing sophomore at the UA and his wife, Erin, is studying to be a physician assistant at Midwestern University in Phoenix. Brandon completed his third- and fourth-year clinical clerkships at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. His brother, Matthew, works for the Colorado Rockies.
Brandon and Erin met as undergraduates at Loyola Marymount University and married the summer before he began medical school. Erin initially worked as the scientific review committee coordinator for the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, then decided to become a clinician. “We both are interested in skin cancer, and we hope to practice dermatology together in Phoenix after my residency,” Brandon says.
He will pursue a residency in dermatology following a one-year internship in internal medicine. “Skin cancer is a major problem in Arizona, and on average there is a 90-plus day wait to see a dermatologist in this state,” he says. “We desperately need more providers to meet the needs of our community. Arizonans spend a lot more time outdoors compared to the average American. Those extra UV rays create more skin cancer, and I want to be able to help prevent and treat my fellow Arizonans.”

Source:  The University of Arizona College of Medicine

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