For fourth-year students across the country, the annual “big reveal” in March, known as Match Day, trumps any reality TV show for authentic real-life, high-stakes drama and emotion. Whoops, hollers and hugs abound as the soon-to-be graduates find out where and in what specialty they’ll spend the next three to seven years of their post-graduate training.
Match Day fell on March 21 this year. Members of Einstein’s Class of 2014 flocked to Lubin Dining Hall, stoked with anticipation. At the stroke of high noon, the ceremonial gong clanged and hundreds of #10 envelopes were ripped open, their contents unfurled.
Among the students was Desmond Sutton, who will soon be caring for patients in underserved urban communities, with a focus on obstetrics & gynecology, as a resident at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. “At Einstein, I’ve had the privilege of serving patients of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, people with histories of drug abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse, and low levels of health literacy and education,” said Mr. Sutton. “They face so many challenges and are so grateful for the attention they receive. I love working with them.”
Mr. Sutton’s mother, Sheila, a nurse at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) for 30 years, inspired Desmond and his twin brother, Darien, to go into medicine. (Darien will graduate from NYU next year, with an M.D.-MBA.) “I watched our mom raise twin boys, getting up at 5 a.m. and going to work every day and enjoying it,” Mr. Sutton recalled. “She always told us, ‘If you’re going to do something for the rest of your life, you had better love it.’ She felt a duty towards her patients. She got many cards and thank-you’s from attending physicians and from parents who were grateful to her for helping save their children’s lives.”
Initially interested in critical care medicine, Mr. Sutton found his calling during his third-year labor and delivery rotation at Jack D. Weiler Hospital, a division of Montefiore Medical Center—Einstein’s University hospital. Weiler also happens to be the hospital where Mr. Sutton was born. In fact, he did his third-year rotation on the very same floor where he took his first breaths. He discovered the amazing coincidence on the last day of rotation, when he pulled out his birth certificate to fill out an application form. “It felt like I had come home,” he said.
Mr. Sutton had high praise for Dr. Amy Kesselman, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein and director medical student clerkships at Einstein and an attending physician at Montefiore. He noted, "I got to deliver three babies vaginally. Then, during fourth-year rotation, I got to do 16 more vaginal deliveries, handle a postpartum hemorrhage, rupture an amniotic sac and repair vaginal lacerations—all supervised by a resident or an attending."
Mr. Sutton's first choice for residency was Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, the primary teaching hospital in obstetrics & gynecology and newborn pediatrics of Warren Alpert Medical School. "The patient population is much like the population in the Bronx," he said. “Regardless of the patient's insurance status, patients get the same level of care. That's important to me."
While Weiler and Einstein, which is Montefiore's Moses division, were near the top of his list, "I was hoping to leave New York for a while and get some new experiences before returning home to practice." So what was the process leading up to Match Day like? "It was a lot of interviewing,” said Mr. Sutton. “From October through January, I did 16 interviews. By the sixth one I was exhausted. But going through the different facilities and talking with the residents was also exciting and exhilarating."
Mr. Sutton credits his Einstein mentors in obstetrics & gynecology and women's health—Dr. Kesselman; Dr. Rodney Wright, associate professor at Einstein and attending physician at Montefiore; and Dr. Erika Banks, associate professor and residency program director at Einstein, and an attending physician at Montefiore—with making the process less daunting. "I had great interviews because of them," he said. "They were amazing.
"Dr. Wright gave me great insights about what to look for in each of the different programs, while Dr. Kesselman was accessible at all hours, by phone and e-mail, whenever I needed advice, and Dr. Banks was warm, kind and readily available."
On the big day, after obtaining his envelope, Mr. Sutton stood by, hugging and congratulating classmates who had already opened theirs. When he finally opened his own, the smile on his face said everything. "I'm speechless," he said. "It's been about three years since I’ve cried, and I’m about to start now."
After a few joyful embraces, he took a call from Darien and then retreated to a quiet space to call his mom. "She immediately started crying," he said, smiling broadly. "She was driving and had to pull over." How did Mr. Sutton sum up his Match Day experience? "It's a dream come true. I love the program and the program director at Women & Infants. I hoped for the best, and it all worked out. Now I have to look for an apartment!" Looking back, he said, "I feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I went to Einstein. Throughout the interview process, I heard that Einstein students come prepared for residency on day one. You’re still nervous, but the hands-on experience you get takes away some of the apprehension. Einstein gave me the tools to start with so I can do well."
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