Hundreds of Georgetown University medical students, friends, family and faculty gathered in the Healey Family Student Center to celebrate “Match Day,” the eagerly anticipated announcement of residency placements for fourth-year students at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, March 17. To aspiring physicians, the day provides life-changing news regarding the next step of their academic and professional journey.
The National Resident Matching Program typically releases residency decisions to all aspiring physicians nationwide in the third week of March each year, but the process of matching starts nearly a year prior.
“Our students, mainly in their third year of medical school, begin to think about their specialty choice and meet with a variety of different advisers to help them think through that process,” Dr. Mary Furlong, senior associate dean for curriculum at the Georgetown School of Medicine, told The Hoya.
The most popular specialties in the match results of Georgetown students were internal medicine, with 36 students, and emergency medicine, with 21 students. Although students matched into residency programs nationwide, many Hoyas are staying local, with 34 students matching to hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area.
On this year’s Match Day, five of the residencies went to a unique group of students: those pursuing a dual degree through Georgetown’s MD/PhD Program. This program, which typically takes seven to nine years to complete, trains students in both clinical skills and lab research typically related to cancer or neuroscience. These dual degree programs typically provide full financial aid for students’ medical education in order to support the pursuit of a doctorate of philosophy. Georgetown is no exception, as they plan to provide full scholarships and stipends for the whole program beginning this year.
Todd Waldman, a professor in the department of oncology and director of the MD/PhD Program, said he is proud of the perseverance and dedication he has seen in this year’s class, who completed many of their formative years in the program during the pandemic.
“It was not easy, and they performed remarkably well, so I’m just enormously pleased and proud of them,” Waldman told The Hoya.
Srikanth Damera (GRD ’23, MED ’23), a member of the 2023 Match Day class, plans to continue the work he started when pursuing a doctor of medicine and doctorate in philosophy dual degree by completing a residency in pediatrics at the Children’s National Medical Center in the District.
While obtaining his doctorate in philosophy, Damera completed projects studying the visual system, auditory system and the complex relationship between various senses. He began his work in medicine by researching language and learning in adults, but found himself enjoying the rewarding field of pediatrics during clinical rotations in his third year of medical school.
“I joined a lab at Children’s National called the Developing Brain Institute, where I continued to do work trying to understand typical and atypical trajectories of neonatal or infant brain development,” Damera told The Hoya. “This inspired me to apply for pediatric physician scientist tracks.”
Damera also said he enjoys how the MD/PhD Program provides students with the unique ability to communicate seamlessly between physicians and scientists while also asking fascinating questions about the intersection between the two fields.
Allison Fitzgerald (GRD ’21, MED ’23), a student in the MD/PhD Program, feels similarly about the impact of Georgetown’s program. The research for her doctorate in philosophy fell within the tumor biology program, where she worked on researching immunotherapy treatment strategies for pancreatic treatment on cellular and molecular levels. Inspired by a personal drive to pursue cancer research in the future, Fitzgerald plans to pursue a residency in internal medicine with a focus on oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Fitzgerald said that Georgetown’s program fosters a sense of community among students that are willing to ask questions and collaborate to innovate in the field of medicine.
“In your Ph.D., you get really comfortable with the fact that there is a lot of information that we as a society do not know, and our Ph.D. is trying to figure out some of this new information,” Fitzgerald said in an interview with The Hoya. “Being confident in the fact that I will never know everything, but am surrounded by very intelligent people who are happy to answer my questions or help when I need it, will make the whole career process a lot smoother.”
Waldman said he is immensely proud of these students for their dedication and is excited to see how they carry the lessons they learned at Georgetown to the next stage of their careers.
“I know them all, and they are just remarkable, wonderful people who have worked incredibly hard for a long period of time.”