SLU SOM Students Celebrate Residency Program Matches
Fourth-year students from Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine participated Friday in “The Match,” which is the culmination of placement into a residency position in the students’ preferred specialties. The Match is administered by the National Residency Match Program (NRMP).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was virtual. The ceremony included addresses from Christine Jacobs, M.D., acting dean of the School of Medicine; Jamie Sutherell, M.D., M.Ed., associate dean for student affairs; and the class co-president Zoe Fisher.
“Today’s Match Day doesn’t look at all like we expected it to back in 2017,” Fisher said during the virtual ceremony. “But I’m proud of our resilience, our grit and our pivots.”
This year’s class matched into residency programs that included Stanford University, Yale University, Mayo Clinic, Cornell University and Duke University. Many opted to stay in the Midwest, and SLU students will be well-represented at Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Cleveland Clinic and here at SLU.
In fact, Sutherell said, almost 20% of matching seniors opted to stay here at SLU to complete their residency training.
“In spite of a myriad of uncertainties heading into application season, including interviews being exclusively virtual for the first time in the history of the Match, this year was another tremendously successful year for SLUSOM with the National Residency Matching Program,” said Sutherell. “Our senior students matched across all specialties and into very prestigious residency training programs across the country. We are extremely proud of the achievements of our senior students and enjoy celebrating their success on Match Day.”
Meet the Class of 2021
For Ravali Reddy Inja, a career in pediatrics has been the goal since she was 7 years old. After four years at SLU, going to Weill Cornell in New York combines matching into a top program with closing her current location gap by putting her in the same city as her fiancé. They are planning a June wedding.
“Weill Cornell Komansky Children’s Hospital quickly became my ideal choice during the residency interview process,” she said. “Cornell provides a stimulating yet supportive environment with an emphasis on resident connectedness.”
Inja was born in India and moved to St. Louis at age 4. She was in the Medical Scholar program at Rockhurst University and received her early acceptance to SLU in her sophomore year.
“SLUSOM’s ideals resonated with me,” she said, noting that the Class of 2021’s motto is Cura Personalis. “SLUSOM prides itself on educating future physicians who are not only academically interested in medicine, but appreciate the individual and duty of care as a whole.”
Inja said her childhood pediatrician was a role model for her and she hopes to be the same for her future patients.
St. Louis-native Madeline L’Ecuyer was raised in a medical family - her father is a physician and her mother is a nurse.
“I grew up surrounded by medicine and always having someone who knew what to do when someone was sick or got hurt,” she said. “In school I was always drawn to science, and first knew I wanted to do medicine after my high school anatomy and physiology class at Nerinx Hall.”
L’Ecuyer got her undergraduate degree in biology at SLU and was a Medical Scholar.
“I always felt supported and nurtured to grow as a student but also as a person,” she said. “The Jesuit environment truly emphasizes care of the whole self, and I have always made a conscious effort to do so in my life. For me to work hard at school, I need to keep myself grounded and fulfilled doing the things that “fill my cup,” like seeing friends and family and having time to relax.
I felt like SLU was genuine in their mission of supporting student wellness and personal growth outside of school, while also maintaining a rigorous academic experience that would prepare me for a future career in medicine.”
She plans to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology and matched at Mercy Hospital, where she hopes to continue working on issues of health literacy.
“In my clinical training as well as personal experience, I have noticed a resounding lack of health literacy surrounding women’s health issues and a need for education in this area,” she said. “I am passionate about teaching patients about their diseases and answering questions so they can better understand their options and treatment plan.”
Eniola Gros is a first-generation American. Her mother was born in Nigeria and her father hails from Haiti.
“I grew up in a multi-cultural household in St. Louis and have lived in Missouri my entire life,” she said. “I am passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine and medical education.”
Gros attended the University of Missouri - Kansas City, planning to stay for UMKC’s six-year BA/MD program, but left during her senior year.
“It was very fast-paced and I needed to learn how to study appropriately,” she said, noting the great mentors she worked with while there continued to encourage her to pursue her dream. She participated in a post-baccalaureate program at Washington University before joining SLU.
Gros matched in emergency medicine at Case Western University.
“I love the acuity - you never know what you are going to get on shift,” she said. “The people in the emergency department are eclectic and come from all walks of life - I definitely found my tribe in the ED.”
St. Louis native Kate Walter went to Boston College for her undergraduate degree in psychology and neuroscience, but said her dream was always to return to St. Louis and SLU for medical school.
“Going to SLU was particularly meaningful for me because it was where my dad, grandfather, uncle and cousin all earned their medical degrees,” she said, noting that her father bestowed her white coat on her in 2017.
Walter matched in diagnostic radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis. She decided on her specialty after attending a lecture by an attending breast radiologist.
“While shadowing, I fell in love with the mix of complex imaging, patient contact, procedures, multidisciplinary care, and problem-solving. I found it really rewarding to be there for patients who needed additional screening or talk with them about next steps in diagnosis and treatment,” she said.
“I think what differentiates SLU from other medical schools is access to physician mentors and dedicated faculty that are invested in not only teaching the fundamentals of medicine, but are also excellent role models in compassionate, patient-centered care. There is a road map to learning the textbook information in medical school, but it’s harder to understand the nuances of patient care and I think SLU gives its students that guidance on how to foster a trusting relationship between patient and physician.”
Ellen Hensle graduated from one Jesuit University (Gonzaga University) before heading to medical school at another.
“I loved it so much and was hoping to find a similar community, which is what drew me to Jesuit institutions,” she said. “When I came for my interview at SLU the people I met reminded me so much of Gonzaga in the way they interacted with each other and with me. I felt like they all genuinely cared for one another and cared for others and I remember thinking this is a community I want to be a part of.”
Hensle grew up in Colorado and will be heading back to a residency in pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
“My mom is a NICU nurse and used to bring me home hospital paraphernalia (preemie diapers, saline syringes, bandages) that I used to play hospital with my baby dolls. In retrospect, it feels very fitting that I chose to go into pediatrics.”
Hensle said Match Day was an opportunity for her to thank family, friends and faculty who helped her get to this point.
“I have had some amazing mentors that have helped me grow both as a person and as a physician and their role in this day cannot be overstated,” she said. “I also think the school administration has done a wonderful job getting everyone to this point amidst all the chaos of a pandemic and have done the absolute most to make sure that we all graduate on time and have some kind of special day within all the restrictions.”
Matt Cormier came to SLU after growing up in Glenview, Illinois. He wanted to stay in the city he now calls home and matched in pediatrics at Washington University.
Cormier said some of his fondest memories of SLU included working at the Asthma and Allergy clinic at the Health Resource Center, learning in the anatomy lab and volunteering at mass vaccination clinics administering COVID-19 vaccine.
“I chose to attend SLU School of Medicine because of its combination of academic rigor and community engagement,” he said. “I saw that I would be pushed to excel clinically but also to be compassionate and humanistic in my relationships with patients. That is what convinced me to stay at SLU.”
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.