Week 48: Fellowship Match Day

The road to becoming an attending physician in medicine and its subspecialties is a long one, with multiple transition points and competitive applications to achieve these goals.  Starting with an undergraduate degree, medical school, residency and then fellowship, the journey from start to finish could span anywhere from 13 to 17 years. Last week the department of medicine (DoM) celebrated the results of the 2023 internal medicine subspecialty match.  We were extremely happy with the outcome. It is important for me to put this into perspective to illustrate the basis of our euphoria and pride in our residents who matched into fellowships, and the ability of our fellowship programs to attract some of the brightest and best trainees in the country.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) oversees the complex process of matching residency and fellowship applicants with available positions based on applicant and program ranked preferences. The NMRP uses algorithms that were developed by two economists, Lloyd Shapley, PhD and Alvin Roth, PhD, for which they won the Nobel prize in 2012.  It is noteworthy that Dr. Shapley was a professor at UCLA.

According to the NMRP, approximately 8,250 residents applied to internal medicine subspecialty programs in the USA, competing for 6,400 positions last year. These numbers have increased year over year for the past 20 years.

You will see that overall, there are 22% more applicants than positions, as such obtaining a position in the most competitive subspecialties is not guaranteed. The best trained candidates from the strongest residency programs are those who are most likely to succeed. There is another nuance across some subspecialties that should be understood to put our match results in perspective. Some fellowships are more competitive than others. For example, based on 2022 NRMP data there were 58%, 51% and 48% more applicants than positions for gastroenterology, pulmonary and critical care medicine, and cardiovascular disease fellowships respectively, representing some of the most competitive programs in which to secure positions. In contrast, there are some specialties in which there are fewer applicants than positions e.g., nephrology (21% more positions than applicants) and infectious diseases (11% more positions than applicants). So, there is stress and anxiety on both sides. Resident applicants for the most competitive programs are not guaranteed to find a position, and certain fellowship programs might not fill their positions in a given year.

So how did we do at UCLA? Simply put, we knocked it out of the ballpark!!

Forty-five of our senior internal medicine residents participated in the subspecialty match this year. EVERYBODY MATCHED!! Impressively, 87% of our residents chose and matched into the most competitive subspecialties gastroenterology, pulmonary and critical care medicine, and cardiovascular disease.  I was a visiting professor at Harvard a few weeks ago and one the program directors mentioned to me that their top ranked candidates were all from UCLA. Fortunately for us, we retained them here!  So, clearly our residents are some of the most competitive and best trained in the country. Although it may seem that we are training residents for only certain fellowships, I believe that these results speak to the overall quality of our trainees and not that we are selecting only for future cardiologists, pulmonologists or gastroenterologists!  I say this as an endocrinologist, and I am sure that some of my other subspecialty colleagues would like to see some of our residents entering our favorite specialties. This is also relevant when one sees that most of our residents are now choosing to stay at UCLA to complete their fellowship training.

Let me also congratulate our physical medicine and rehabilitation residents who successfully matched into fellowships this year! 50% are staying at UCLA.

The other side of the coin also gave us much to celebrate. This year our subspecialty programs offered a total of 99 positions. ALL WERE FILLED!!  Fellowship programs such as nephrology, infectious diseases, advanced heart failure and heart transplant, and adult congenital heart disease, which offer more positions than applicants at the national level, were fully subscribed at UCLA. This speaks volumes regarding the quality, reputation, and rigor of our programs. It indicates that candidates from across the country in all subspecialties, choose to come to UCLA because of the quality training that they will receive here. 

Therefore, it is not difficult for you to see why I was so happy last Wednesday when the match results came out, so much so that I did a happy dance.

As happy as I was, our residents were happier than me.

Here are some additional details about the outcome of our match this year.

Our trainees matched into eight of the most selective specialty programs, at 15 health systems, in eight states. Most notably, 53% of our medicine residents will be joining us here at UCLA as subspecialty fellows.

We are proud of this cohort which is the largest group to match thus far. I am confident that the training received in the DoM has prepared them for this new stage in their trajectory towards becoming leaders in medicine. I extend our congratulations to them and extend my congratulations to each mentor, administrator, and supporter who nurtured the growth of our trainees during residency and throughout the fellowship application process.

Here is some additional information about the talented group of incoming fellows who will be joining us in July 2023. 99 residents, representing 22 states, 12 countries, 20 with advanced degrees in addition to their MD’s, and 13 identified as URIM, have matched into 20 of our programs.  Meet our incoming fellows.

View incoming fellows by program:

Allergy & ImmunologyHospice and Palliative Medicine
Adult Congenital Heart DiseaseInfectious Diseases
Advanced Heart Failure & Heart TransplantInterventional Cardiology
Cardiovascular DiseaseInterventional Pulmonology
Clinical Cardiac ElectrophysiologyNephrology
Endocrinology, Diabetes, and MetabolismPain Medicine
GastroenterologyPediatric Dermatology
Geriatric MedicinePulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine
Geriatric and Palliative MedicineRheumatology
Hematology and Medical OncologySleep Medicine
Transplant Hepatology

I want to give a special introduction to a subset of incoming fellows who will be joining our STAR Program.

Our STAR Program is an innovative and nationally recognized program that is focused on providing rigorous training and mentorship that is committed to ensuring that the pipeline of physician scientists who will populate our faculty in the future remains robust. I am also pleased to note that five of our incoming STAR fellows are graduates of our physician scientist residency track known as ProSTAR, under the leadership of Amy Cummings, MD, PhD and Olujimi Ajijola, MD, PhD

Taken together, this successful fellowship match would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our Internal Medicine Residency Director Lisa Skinner, MD and colleagues who worked with all our residents to provide guidance and mentorship during the fellowship application process. Our chief residents efficiently coordinated coverage for residents who had to take time off to attend interviews. I also thank all our fellowship program directors and coordinators who reviewed hundreds of applications and conducted countless interviews to ensure that we recruited the brightest and best to UCLA to train in our programs. On behalf of the department, I extend our gratitude to all these individuals who were key to our success.

Fellowship Program Directors & Program Coordinators
Allergy & Immunology:
Joseph Yusin, MD and Jillisa Steckart
Adult Congenital Heart Disease:
Jeanette Lin, MD and Andrew Yuen
Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology:
Arnold Baas, MD and Sandra Rodriguez
Cardiovascular Disease:
Karol Watson, MD, PhD and Desiree Valeriano, Kristen Lorico
Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology:
Noel Boyle, MD, PhD and Esther Baires
Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism:
Stephanie Smooke-Praw, MD and Jasmine Teo
Lin Chang, MD and Trisha Navarro
Geriatric Medicine:
Erin Atkinson Cook, MD and Jennifer Ayala
Hematology and Medical Oncology:
Sarah Larson, MD and Ira Sarian, Alyssa Le
Hospice and Palliative Medicine:
Eric Prommer, MD and Robin Catino
Infectious Disease:
Chris Graber, MD and Izumi Shitoma
Interventional Cardiology:
Ravi Dave, MD and Sandra Rodriguez
Interventional Pulmonology:
Kathryn Melamed, MD and Heather Draper
Mohammad Kamgar, MD and Ruth Manley
Pain Medicine:
Angela Pham, MD
Pediatric Dermatology:
Carol Cheng, MD and Samantha Nelson
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation:
Dixie Aragaki, MD
Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine:
Kathryn Melamed, MD 
and Heather Draper
Jennifer Grossman, MD and Gabriel Valdivia
Sleep Medicine:
Michelle Zeidler, MD and Sara Itagaki
Transplant Hepatology:
Steven-Huy Han, MD and Ann Toggenburger

Internal Medicine Chief Residents
Roshni Bhatnagar, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident
Cameron Henneberg, MD
Greater LA VA Chief Resident
Patrick Holman, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident
Rachel Ohman, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident
Rachel Sarnoff, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident
Brandon Smith
Greater LA VA Chief Resident
George Tran, MD
Greater LA VA Chief Resident
Rebecca Tsevat, MD
Primary Care Chief Resident
Yuliya Zektser, MD
VA Chief Resident in Quality & Patient Safety (CRQS)

I want to highlight another set of graduates. We celebrate the graduation of 17 students in the UCLA Medical Assistant Program (MAP). Founded five years ago by Alan Fogelman, MDQuanna Batiste-Brown, DNPToyin Lawal, DNP, and Jennifer Zanotti-Davis, MS, RN, CNS, the MAP was created to prepare students to transition into a medical career through robust training and career placement at UCLA Health. The DoM is proud to be the major financial supporter of this program in collaboration with UCLA Health underwriting operational expenses and providing scholarships to each student enrolled in the program. 

For the past four years, Associate Dean Adisa Cartwright, MSN, RN-BC,  and her team have been guiding the program’s growth and the success of its students. An advocate for building health equity and increasing diversity in health care, she partnered with community organizations such as the Los Angeles Urban League and SoLA Impact to help market the program and recruiting diverse candidates.

Through Associate Dean Cartwright’s partnerships with the LA Urban League and SoLA Impact, the two organizations have committed to providing scholarships to students to help meet any financial gaps. Associate Dean Cartwright proudly shares that in this program, students need to only worry about purchasing a pair of comfortable shoes since scrubs, textbooks, certification exam fees, and tuition are paid for due to the support of the DoM and community partners.

There are not enough minority healthcare professionals in allied health. This year, all students in the UCLA Medical Assistant Program were minority students. Our program is grounded in the values of UCLA and promoting health equity,”

states Cartwright.

In addition to earning a medical assistant license, students can participate in a phlebotomy program approved by the California Department of Public Health, which grants the certified phlebotomist license upon successfully completing requirements. This program provides several opportunities to enter medicine and build a career. For example, Cartwright highlights that former student Anmol Kumar, graduated from the program in 2020, became a medical assistant, transitioned into a team facilitator for the ambulatory resource team, and will now be joining the MAP program in the administrative office as he pursues his nursing degree.

Anmol is a great ambassador for the medical assistant program and demonstrates that the sky is the limit,

adds Cartwright.

Finally, a special shout out to our colleagues in dermatology who shared on Instagram the outcome of their Miles for Melanoma 5K Run.

Congratulations on your successful fundraising and thanks for your advocacy and support of our patients with skin cancer.



Our dermatologists were not the only ones out running this weekend.

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