UA Med Students in Phoenix Learn Next Destination at Match Day

Class of 37 from Downtown Phoenix Campus Will Be Fourth to Graduate

PHOENIX – Nearly half of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix students set to graduate in May learned on Friday they will begin their residency training in Arizona.


“I moved here to go to this medical school,” said Erin Hefley, who will be doing a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Maricopa Medical Center. “We chose this city and this community because that’s what we were looking for. So when I found out that I definitely get to stay in this community with these people that I love and working with these patients that I have gotten to know, it’s perfect. It’s exactly what I was hoping for.”


Of the 37 graduating students, 18 are pursuing primary care fields, the most critical shortage Arizona is facing, and 17 of the 37 will begin training in Phoenix or Tucson.


“It’s a stage of life change so that in general brings a lot of anxiety and excitement but I am super happy,” Hefley said.


The fourth graduating class at the downtown Phoenix campus learned Friday – at the same moment as thousands of other medical students nationwide – where they have “matched” with residency training programs during a ceremony held in the Health Sciences Education Building on campus.


“I want to thank all of our graduates-to-be for being phenomenal students, phenomenal role models and just the best that we could ask for as this medical school spreads its wings and starts to fly,” said Stuart D. Flynn, MD, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix.


“Match Day” is the culmination of a complex year-long process that matches the nation’s graduating medical students with residency programs. On announcement day, there are plenty of emotions.


“A lot of fears, what ifs, but also a lot of hopes and excitement that you are going to go where you plan to go and where you want to go and where you see your future,” said Kelley Saunders, who will be training in obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. “I was very lucky that I got exactly where I was hoping to be, and I get to stay here in town.”


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 Residency 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.


Residency programs vary in length from three years for general medicine/family practice specialties to eight years for the most specialized of surgeons.


For the latest class of four-year medical students in downtown Phoenix, 18 of the 37 will train in primary care settings – pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine or obstetrics and gynecological programs. Students were matched to programs in 12 other states. The ceremony held on Friday featured a “flash mob” of first-, second- and third-year medical students singing a choreographed version of “Celebration,” followed by the unveiling of residency letters with streamers and confetti – all in Arizona red and blue.


Nationally, less than 39 percent of physicians practice in the state where they went to medical school while about half of Arizona medical school graduates practice in-state, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. In addition, about 75 percent of graduates who do their residency in Arizona remain in the state to practice.


More than 33,000 medical students nationwide were eligible to match on Friday for more than 29,671 training positions.


The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix was established to help address the critical shortage of physicians in Arizona and currently admits 80 students per class with the eventual goal of growing to 120 students per class.



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The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007. The College of Medicine – Phoenix currently has 282 students training to be physicians. The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains individuals to become exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders who are life-long learners and inquisitive scholars and who will embrace professionalism, innovation and collaboration to optimize health and healthcare for all.



Al Bravo
Associate Director, Public Affairs
University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
550 E. Van Buren St., Room 1263
Phoenix, AZ 85004-2230
(602) 827-2022 (office)


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