Match Day Exhilaration Returns to UConn Medical School

It's a match! 110 soon-to-be UConn-produced doctors ripped open their white envelopes to reveal their future medical residency destinies

SOM Class of 2023 Paige Holden

Class of 2023 fourth-year medical student Paige Holden has been a Husky for 8 years but is now going to be a general surgery resident training in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Liang and Dr. Held
Match Day 2023 festivities were hosted in the Academic Rotunda by Dean of UConn School of Medicine Dr. Bruce T. Liang and Associate Dean for Medical Student Affairs Dr. Melissa Held.

For the first time since COVID-19’s outbreak, the excitement of national Match Day returned in-person to UConn School of Medicine.

At the stroke of noon on March 17, 110 soon-to-be UConn-produced doctors in the Class of 2023, the largest class in the School’s history, excitedly and anxiously gathered with their faculty mentors, family, and friends and ripped open their white envelopes to learn their residency training destinies for the next several years in hospitals spanning from Connecticut to California.

This national Match Day, the Class of 2023 had 110 students successfully placed in residency positions. This is a high match rate of 99%, with 38% of medical students going into primary care fields, 30% staying in Connecticut, 57% remaining in New England, and 18% staying elsewhere in the Northeast. Twenty-two percent are staying at UConn for residency training.

Double-Huskies Match
Many of the fourth-year medical students celebrating Match Day 2023 are actually UConn double-huskies who learned their residency training fates.

Celina Marie Lopes Caetano, 26, of Waterbury, attended UConn Waterbury as an undergraduate. She matched in internal medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital. “I am nervously excited! However, I am so happy that I get to spend Match Day with my classmates who have become part of my family.”

Bridget Oei and Michael DiCosmo
Couple’s match: Bridget Oei and Michael DiCosmo are headed to the University of Vermont together for residency training.

Caetano is choosing to become a future primary care physician for one reason: “I want to help people and learn from everyone around me.”

“I am so excited. It is an honor to be a part of such a special tradition and I am grateful I will get to congratulate my classmates in person!” shared Bridget Oei, 27, from Hebron, who also graduated from UConn.

“I am really proud to be from Connecticut and to have trained here for medical school,” said Oei, who is headed to University of Vermont Medical Center for training in anesthesiology. “Anesthesia will allow me to be my patients’ fiercest advocate during a case,” she said.

Oei’s Match Day is double-extra special, as she’s couple-matching with fiancé Michael DiCosmo, 26, from New Canaan. He matched into orthopedic surgery also at the University of Vermont. The couple is newly engaged.

“We are so excited! We both matched, so we are relieved!” says Oei.

Another fellow double-husky agrees and also considers UConn “home.”

Eric Beltrami
Eric Beltrami residency matched to Boston University Medical Center for dermatology.

“Excited is an understatement,” said Eric Beltrami, 25, of Wolcott. “Match Day is the culmination of all of our hard work since deciding to pursue medicine. The contents of that envelope shape the trajectory of the next four years of my life, and in many ways my life after residency.”

Beltrami is headed to Boston University Medical Center for dermatology residency, and the opportunity to care for patients of all ages. He credits mentorship for his successful match.

“I received outstanding mentorship from UConn Department of Dermatology – from the moment I began exploring dermatology as a specialty I was engaged in many productive research opportunities, especially with Dr. Feng and Dr. Grant-Kels, and wonderful clinical experiences, most notably with Dr. Rothe and Dr. Weston, that prepared me well for this match cycle. I truly believe the clinical training at UConn is exceptional. I feel that UConn has prepared me well to navigate my next steps in my career as a physician.”

Paige Holden, 25, of Granby, attended UConn as an undergrad too. She could feel the buzz of excitement and anticipation of those around her on medical Match Day 2023.

Paige Holden
Paige Holden just seconds after opening up her Match Day white envelope at the strike of noon.

“I’ve been a Husky for 8 years now. I’ve built so many memories first in Storrs and now here in Farmington. I’m thrilled that we are finally back in person for the first time since 2019,” Holden said. “The words written in that envelope will determine where I spend the next 7 years of my life.”

Holden is headed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for general surgery training. “For me, general surgery is the perfect balance between getting to perform a broad variety of procedures and maintaining a solid practice of general medicine. I may be biased, but I’d argue that a good general surgeon is one of the most well-rounded doctors in a hospital; there are few emergencies that general surgeons are ill-equipped to handle.”

Holden said: “In my time here, Dr. Katherine Coyner has been an incredible mentor to me. She’s made it her mission to inspire girls and women of all ages to fearlessly pursue traditionally male-dominated fields, and I can honestly say there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance and support.”

Couple’s Match
Anne Reisch
, 27, from Westerly, RI, also had a double dose of excitement on Match Day. She couple-matched with her partner and fellow medical student, Kathryn Stevens, of Colchester. They are both headed to New York City. Reisch has matched in neurology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell and Stevens has matched in psychiatry at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

“It feels surreal!” said Reisch. “I will have my partner with me as we start this next phase. I cannot believe that four years of medical school have gone by, and now I will be starting residency.  I think UConn SOM does a great job preparing us for the start of residency.  It is also so fun to see my classmates decide on their specialties, and I am looking forward to seeing where everyone matches.”

And why neurology? Reisch said: “I am fascinated by the subject and found taking care of patients with neurological diseases the most fulfilling. I have been positively inspired by so many neurologists, including the amazing Dr. Eugene! The neurologists I’ve met are so excited to learn that I am entering this field and are so passionate and happy with their career paths.”

Dr. Hurley and Jon Harrell
Jay Harrell celebrating at Match Day with mentor Dr. Marja Hurley, founder/director of the UConn Health Career Opportunity. Jay is entering emergency medicine in Houston at the University of Texas.

‘Mentorship Matters’
Jonathan “Jay” Harrell II
, 27, from Altamonte Springs, Fla., was “ecstatic” about Match Day. “This is it! The culmination of tremendous time, effort, and work that we have put in.” He is entering emergency medicine training at University of Texas Medical School – Houston.

“Emergency Medicine is the specialty that grabbed my heart,” said Harrell. “Having the opportunity to have an immense variety in my day-to-day and being a space for all people to receive care is a gift. Going into Emergency Medicine, your job may go beyond the scope of being a physician who treats the physical, but that’s ok. That is why we’re called to medicine to treat the whole human being and their needs, physical and beyond.”

He credited the UConn Health Career Opportunity Program for the support he needed along his medical school journey. He ended up staying an extra year to complete his MBA with his M.D.

“Mentorship matters,” said Harrell. “Having someone supporting me who took those steps before me gave me the resources along the journey to medical school and now residency! So know that at UConn, support and mentorship are here.”

“I’m a Husky Forever,” said Harrell.

Edesiri Igbuya
Edesiri Igbuya has wanted to be a physician since she was five years old. She has successfully matched to OBGYN at UMass.

“I am very excited about Match Day! It is such a special moment. I have wanted to be a physician since I was five years old. As a first-generation Nigerian American I will be the first physician on both sides of my family,” said Edesiri Igbuya, 26, originally from the Bronx, and now a Naugatuck resident.

She was also part of the Health Career Opportunity Program, along with the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and the Urban Service Track/AHEC Scholars Program at UConn Health.

She is entering the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology as a resident at UMass. “This field encompasses many of the aspects of medicine that I enjoyed during my medical school clerkships and did not want to go without. I love that OBGYN combines preventive medicine and longitudinal care, women’s health, surgery, and advocacy.  OBGYN is a field that is swiftly paced, constantly changing, physically demanding, and emotionally rewarding.”

Rafael Olivieri-Ortiz, 26, of Puerto Rico, couldn’t be happier that Match Day had finally arrived.

“I am stoked to attend Match Day in person.  Being able to be with my friends and family, who have been with me through medical school, means the world to me,” said Olivieri-Ortiz who is entering the field of Diagnostic Radiology. He matched for advanced training at UConn for internal medicine and University of Texas – Austin for diagnostic radiology.

“UConn to me is family. There is not a more welcoming place to become a doctor than UConn!” said Olivieri-Ortiz, who was mentored by the Health Career Opportunity Program. “I am entering for residency in Diagnostic Radiology.  I believe it is the coolest specialty out there and it will allow me to partake in the care of hundreds of patients on a daily basis. My love for radiology started here at UConn and, particularly, with Dr. Michael Baldwin, who did most of the radiology teaching and became my mentor.”

Emergency Medicine Match
Class of 2023 soon-to-be doctors celebrating at Match Day 2023 who are entering the field of emergency medicine including Jay Harrell.

UConn Pride and Prepared for Residency
Olivieri-Ortiz and his fellow Class of 2023 classmates couldn’t be prouder to be educated and trained at UConn School of Medicine, the largest producer of new doctors and surgeons for the state. They feel well-prepared for residency training.

Olivieri-Ortiz said, “UConn has provided me all of the tools necessary to be the best physician I can be. I am very proud to be part of the UConn family and to be associated with an institution that works to improve public health. I can already imagine the day I get labeled as Dr. Olivieri-Ortiz. I am also very excited to what is to come, as our journey does not end here. Thanks, UConn!”

Beltrami also shared: “UConn produces physicians who are not only knowledgeable and skilled clinically, but also conscious of the many extrinsic factors (social, economic) that influence the health of patients. I believe that no matter which field my peers and I are entering, we are bringing that important perspective which will ultimately benefit patient care and advance medicine forward.”

Class of 2023 SOM Isabel Nip
22 percent of the matching medical students are remaining at UConn for residency including Isabel Nip for UConn’s recently created residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“Attending UConn has made me feel well-prepared for residency,” said Igbuya. “The community of UConn extends far and wide. It’s humbling to know that I’ve been trained at an institution that creates such excellent physicians, many of whom we have access to during our preclinical and clinical years.”

Holden concluded: “I don’t think I fully realized the impact this school has on the landscape of healthcare in Connecticut until my third-year clinical rotations. It seemed like every other attending physician I met had trained at UConn in some capacity, and I admired their eagerness to stay and serve this community. I may not be completing my residency training in this state, but I’ve been a Husky for 8 years now and I imagine I will happily return here to my roots when my training is complete.”