Fourth-year student at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Aly Baniqued, has waited more than a decade for this day.
“Becoming a physician has literally been over 12 years in the making. From undergrad to taking my gap years and eventually getting into medical school, knowing there would be this light at the end of the tunnel kept me going.”
Completing her undergraduate studies at Creighton University, Baniqued then went on to JABSOM, intending to practice primary care medicine.
“I just really liked the idea of seeing patients through their lifetime, through their highs and lows, so that’s ultimately why I chose family medicine.”
As medical school students complete each year of learning, they take another step toward becoming doctors. Today, otherwise known as Match Day, Baniqued’s next chapter was revealed. She learned where she’ll work as a resident. Residency is the next phase of a physician’s training, where doctors spend their first 3-7 years learning to become excellent specialists in their chosen fields.
Baniqued matched with her first choice, the University of Hawaiʻi.
“I’m so excited to be able to learn from the community that I grew up in,” Baniqued said.
On Friday morning, the 72 fourth-year students at JABSOM learned they all matched to a residency program.
“It’s critical to get into the residency of your choice. There are a ton of great programs, and ultimately, it comes down to fit, being able to see yourself working with the residents while also looking at the community in which you’re serving,” Baniqued said.
Thirty-one percent of the class of 2023 will remain in Hawaiʻi for their residency and Thirty-nine percent of the class will go into primary care, a much needed speciality as Hawaiʻi faces a physician shortage.
Applying for residency is a competitive process. According to The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), 42,952 applicants vied for 40,375 spots this year, marking the largest match in NRMP’s 70-year history.
Of the seven programs Baniqued applied to, she interviewed at four. She was grateful to get matched to her first choice.
“My long-term plan was to come home to Hawaiʻi and serve the people I’ve grown up with. I ultimately fulfilled that goal,” she said.
Fourth-year JABSOM student Clark Caballero found the journey to residency is just as hard, and in some ways, even more complicated, than applying for medical school or other jobs.
“I applied to about 45 programs, which is quite a bit, but not as much as all the nationwide programs for psychiatry,” he said. “I started looking at programs when I first started fourth-year around July. I was looking for specific things, like places that focused on culture, diversity, and geriatric care.”
Students go on interviews, and once complete, students and hospitals will rank their top choices, and a computer algorithm will do the “matching.” Today, Caballero learned he also matched his first choice, the University of Hawaiʻi.
“Psychiatry here was always my number one. I was hoping to stay here from the beginning.”
Since this is the largest match in NRMP history, thousands of students nationwide will not find a match and will need to re-apply to residency programs the following year.
That’s not an issue JABSOM students are facing this year. Since many will stay in Hawaiʻi for residency training, it allows them to provide direct care to local patients while chipping away at the physician shortage that still lingers over our state. JABSOM students feel the responsibility and connection to our state.
“I’m staying here because I want to give back to the community and take care of our older population, our kupuna,” Caballero said.
“There’s something to be said about learning in the place you’re about to serve. Hawaiʻi’s culture is so rich and different from anywhere else in the world, and I’m just so lucky to get to serve my community through my training and ultimately in practice in the future,” Baniqued said.