Carla Velarde knew she wanted to stay in Rochester. She not only grew up here, and got her undergrad, master’s degree, and medical school education at the University of Rochester, but it’s also where she became a mother.
Velarde delivered her son, Ben, during her third year of medical school in 2017. After an eight-month sabbatical, she returned to the program and completed her education. So when it came time to choose where she wanted to do her residency, she considered a number of top programs from around the country, but ultimately ranked the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital as her number one destination of choice.
“I ranked the University of Rochester number one for many reasons – partly the research and the faculty I’ve met here are incredible in psychiatry, but also because I have family here. It just makes a lot of sense,” she said.
“It took a lot of help from the administration, my mentors and advisors, and my family to really get through the last two years and successfully become a mother and now a doctor. It really does takes a village.”
On Friday afternoon, with Ben in her arms, Velarde got the news she was longing to hear.
“I matched with my No. 1 and I could not be happier,” she said after learning she’d been matched with Strong for her residency in psychiatry. “This is the best choice for me and my family.
“I can’t seem to get away. The U of R keeps pulling me back for all the right reasons.”
Velarde was one of nearly 100 soon-to-be physicians from the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry who got the results Friday of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), which matches the preference of students with the preferences of residency programs. The annual Match Day ceremony is the culmination of four years of medical school and reveals where students will be going to begin their careers in medicine.
The 2019 Main Residency Match was the largest in NRMP history with more than 38,000 applicants vying for just over 35,000 positions. At the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry, 97 students pursuing residency training were placed in 23 different specialties, with the largest concentrations in internal medicine (23), emergency medicine (13), pediatrics and psychiatry (nine each).
“What that really says is that the great thing about the University of Rochester is that all kinds of people can come and train here and they can choose whatever career they want and they can be successful,” said David R. Lambert, M.D., senior associate dean for medical student education.
“I think the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry does two things which really prepared me well for my future: early exposure to patients, and holding students to a high standard of responsibility in caring for those patients,” said Benjamin Plog, who matched with his first choice for neurological surgery at the University of Washington in St. Louis. "Very early on you are treated as an integral member of the patient care team, and this is carried throughout the years as more responsibility is layered on."
Fourteen percent of the school’s graduates will stay and complete their training at the UR Medical Center, while another 14 percent will go to other programs within New York State. The remainder will be heading to top programs in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
While many students were thrilled to stay in Rochester or explore new locales, Denzil Harris, a native of Brooklyn, was among those students looking forward to returning to his hometown. He will be completing his residency in internal medicine at New York University.
“I’m extremely excited about that. I haven’t lived at home in almost 14 years,” he said. “It’s crazy that this whole process builds up to this one day, but I’m really excited that I got exactly what I was looking for.”
So, too, did Anisha Gundewar. The Marlborough, Massachusetts native not only matched in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, but she landed in the same program as her partner, who is a year ahead of her.
“We’re in such a good spot now. We can actually start looking at homes together and start our lives. I’m just so grateful, so happy, and so excited,” she said. “I’ve waited for this for so long. I’m just so glad that my dreams came true.”