Match Day 2023: A day to remember
Fourth-year UF medical students learn residency matches during March 17 ceremony
March 17, 2023 — Surrounded by family members and her best friend, fourth-year UF medical student Samari Blair took to the stage, smiled and announced that she will begin her pediatric residency this summer at the University of Miami as the room erupted into applause — with her parents, dressed in black T-shirts that read “My favorite pediatrician calls me mom,” and “My favorite pediatrician calls me dad,” cheering on either side of her.
Blair and 131 of her peers at the UF College of Medicine celebrated Match Day — during which all U.S. medical students discover where they will spend the next three to seven years in their residency programs — at the Edward G. Evans Champions Club at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday, surrounded by supportive classmates and loved ones. This year, the National Resident Matching Program received more than 48,000 applications from medical students across the country.
Shelley Collins, M.D., the associate dean for student affairs, said she has enjoyed watching members of the UF M.D. class of 2023 develop into wonderful physicians.
“Seniors, you have had an incredible impact on me over the last four years that I’ve gotten to know you, and I hope that I have been able to impact you even just a little bit and influence you as you head off into your careers,” she said. “Today is a great day that you will remember for the rest of your careers, and I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you.”
Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., also thanked the family members who supported the medical students during their training and studies.
“This is a day our students have been eagerly awaiting for a long time, and it’s incredibly gratifying to see them be rewarded for all their years of hard work,” she said.
Meet a few of the faces from the UF College of Medicine’s 2023 Match Day:
Richie Artola, internal medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
Richie Artola was inspired to pursue a career in health care after serving as a U.S. Army Squad Leader from 2011-16. Though he initially worked with signal intelligence, he quickly realized he wanted a job where he could interact meaningfully with people. An experience overseas as a platoon medic teaching fellow soldiers lifesaving combat medicine opened his eyes to the world of patient care.
Now just months away from becoming a physician, Artola will spend his internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, once again helping to save lives. He aspires to spend his career serving patients in the hospital setting and is considering further training in critical care medicine or physician executive work after completing his residency.
Artola said he is excited for the additional responsibilities of residency and the broad diversity of patients and cases that internal medicine brings. As a young boy, Artola was raised in South Florida by his father who immigrated during the Nicaraguan Revolution. He was inspired by his father’s fortitude but never imagined that becoming a doctor was an accessible goal, given that no one in his family had previously been to college. But through watching virtual Match Day ceremonies during his Army days and falling in love with each new aspect of medicine during his four years at UF, he found his calling.
“What I love about where I am is there’s so much flexibility,” he said. “I enjoyed everything in medical school, and to me, internal medicine is a blend of all the fields we explored and an opportunity to take leadership roles and build camaraderie like I had in the military. Finally, I get to pull all the stuff I’ve learned and focus on outcomes for my patients. That’s me finally getting to my dream.”
Taylor Rouviere, pediatrics, University of Florida
Taylor Rouviere’s interests in medicine began in middle and high school, when her mother began having health issues. This experience prompted the teen to consider how to better help patients like her mom feel more comfortable when cared for by physicians. Now, the fourth-year medical student is preparing to help patients reach that level of care and trust from the other side.
This summer, Rouviere will remain at the University of Florida as a pediatrics resident, where she said she is looking forward to making decisions as a trusted resident physician and working with children.
“I’ve always loved being around kids since you can be silly around them without judgment. They’re also so energetic and often have such positive perspectives which makes working with them refreshing,” she said.
Rouviere grew up in Miami with a love for performing and had a recurring role in the Netflix show “Bloodline,” in addition to working on several commercials as a child.
“The one thing that’s been a parallel for me has been meeting new people all the time and forming a relationship with them quickly,” Rouviere said. “As a health care provider, you want your patients to trust you, and you want to have a good relationship with them. Growing up as an actor, I did a lot of commercials. I’d be 5 years old filming a commercial and they’re like, ‘Taylor, this is your grandpa for today. Go jump on his back and act like you’ve known him your entire life.’ Those kinds of things have really translated well into medicine, just being able to pick up with people and act like you’ve known them forever and build relationships.”
Esther Duqueney, internal medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
As early as she can remember, Esther Duqueney dreamed of becoming a doctor. Despite having no physicians in her Haitian American family, Duqueney recalls telling her mother in kindergarten that she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.
Her interest in medicine was sparked by a friendly relationship with her hometown pediatrician in Fort Lauderdale, Duqueney said. During her visits, they bonded by speaking French, and when she began her undergraduate pre-medical studies at UF, he wrote her a long letter full of advice and words of support.
“At a young age, I loved going to the doctor’s office, and I quickly saw how doctors can create great interpersonal relationships with their patients,” she said.
The first-generation medical student has since continued to explore the field through her studies, service and clinical rotations. She developed a passion for cardiology and health equity after seeing her grandmother’s struggle with heart failure and lack of access to medical resources in Haiti. After completing an internal medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Duqueney said, she wants to pursue further training in adult cardiology and tackle health care disparities as a clinician and researcher.
“Being able to become the first doctor in my family and finding out where I’m going to continue my training is very meaningful,” she said. “Even though my grandmother’s not with me now, she inspired my career goals, and my passions all came together. Being able to dismantle some of the disparities that affect cardiovascular health is a long-term goal.”
Ethan Holland, psychiatry, and Esther Blondeau-Lecomte, internal medicine-pediatrics
,University of Tennessee Health Science Center-Memphis
Ethan Holland and Esther Blondeau-Lecomte will begin their residencies at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center-Memphis, where Holland will specialize in psychiatry and Blondeau-Lecomte in internal medicine-pediatrics. They participated in the couples matching process, during which they consulted one another on which institutions to rank based on their feelings regarding different programs and locations.
“It was nice to have someone going through the exact same thing as me, and we could just bounce ideas off each other,” Blondeau-Lecomte said. “There’s a person to support you through the whole process who gets it.”
After getting to know one another as peers, Holland and Blondeau-Lecomte began dating as second-year students, with a first date at Gainesville’s One Love Cafe. Both entered medical school without a clear idea of what they wanted to specialize in, but found their interests became clear during clinical rotations.
“I had a psychiatry rotation fairly early on in my third year, and I didn’t know that much about it, so it wasn’t really on my radar,” Holland said. “But then I just ended up really loving that rotation and loved working with that patient group and seeing the effect that improving their mental health had on their overall well-being.”
Blondeau-Lecomte likes that she will be working with both adult and pediatric patients through her combined internal medicine and pediatrics training.
“I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running,” she said. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount working here with our residents, our attendings and fellow medical students, and I’m excited to be the one making the decisions, putting in the orders and doing the work. I think it’s going to be really rewarding to put into practice what we have been learning for the past four years.”
By the numbers
132 total matches
31 matches at UF
4 matches at UF Jacksonville
15 matches at other programs in Florida
Top specialties: Internal medicine, pediatrics, anesthesiology, OB-GYN, radiology, general surgery
Welcoming new residents
The UF College of Medicine also welcomes 191 new residents in Gainesville and 98 new residents in Jacksonville, who will begin their training in July.
Photos by Louis Brems