Match Day for medical students & concerns about state budget cuts

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There was cheering inside the Mercedes Benz Superdome Friday, but it had nothing to do with a game. Dozens of graduating LSU Health New Orleans medical students learned where they will do their residencies and complete their medical training.  It was the same scene close by for Tulane medical students.

Sealed envelopes prompted outbursts of elation.

It's National Match Day and pure thrill followed the end of the weeks of suspense.

"It's so exciting, we've all been working so hard over the last four years just to get to this moment," said LSU Health med student Haley Kern.

"I'm going to Baton Rouge General for family medicine and I want to do a fellowship after O.B… Yes, it's what I wanted," said Lauren Tillery, another LSU Health med student.

"I'm going to Washington D.C. I'm going to George Washington University for psychiatry," stated Kate Cowhey," also a graduating LSU Health student.

"I got my number one choice and it says LSU School of Medicine Baton Rouge, Louisiana for emergency medicine," said LSU Health med student Roshan Patel, as he held up his letter.

LSU Health New Orleans had 193 graduating medical students participating in the National Resident Match Program this year.

"The good news here is that 46% of our students decided to stay in Louisiana for their training. Of those that decide to stay, 75% decide to stay in one of our programs," said Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of the School of Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans.

But LSU has seen better days in terms of  graduating medical students wanting to remain in Louisiana to complete their training.   The school said 46% or 89 of the 193 LSU Health students chose to remain in the state.  That is down from 49% staying in the state late year and 64.3% in 2012.

"So that's an 18-percent drop," Dr. Nelson stated.

He said the ongoing state budget crises are having an effect on students making the critical decisions.

"And the reason for that, at least I believe in part, is because of all the talk of ending the partnerships and shortfalls in the budget and talk about maybe closing these hospitals. Remember this is the most important part of their training, this is when the student really learns how to be a doctor," Dr. Nelson said.

"I went to LSU for undergrad, so budget concern is an every year thing and it definitely did weigh into, you know, it made me hesitate about staying in Louisiana because of the uncertainty but given that I'm from here, I know the people here, I grew up with them there's nobody else I'd rather be serving," said Patel.

And Dr. Nelson said the ongoing funding uncertainty in Louisiana is making the job of recruiting faculty more difficult.

"It's not going to be easy to attract people from the other states to come here with all this, it's even hard for me to recruit faculty to come in when they go back to their hotel rooms and read about these cuts," he said.

Nearby, inside the Hyatt Hotel, on Loyola Avenue, Tulane's School of Medicine was holding its Match Day activities.

"I am very interested in women's health and adolescent health, so I'm hoping to work with that when I'm a full-doctor," said Adrienne Roth, a Tulane student.

"It's absolutely so exciting. I've been thinking about this day since I started Med School," added Elizabeth Kream, another Tulane med student.

Tulane aid out of its 191 graduating medical students 31 were matched in Louisiana and will train here. It said only 23 students in this year's class are from the state, so it sees the total number of students remaining in Louisiana to complete their training as a gain.

"Some really good students are staying here and some are going to some of the best programs in the country," said Dr. Marc Kahn, M.D., of Tulane's School of Medicine.

Still LSU Health New Orleans remains concerned over the ongoing budget crises and the impact on graduating medical students.

"Really when you think of all the money, and effort and talent that we put into these kids, some of the brightest kids in Louisiana and to send them to other states that welcome them with open arms it really doesn't make any sense," said Dr. Nelson.

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