All across the country, at the exact same time, senior medical students found out where they will be trained. They opened envelopes to see if they got their first, second, or third choice of hospital teaching programs. More than half of the students at LSUHSC will stay in the state.
The young faces, some with tears of joy, are the men and women who one day may save your life. In six weeks, LSU Medical School seniors can put M.D. after their names. Today, they found out where they will spend the next 3 to 6 years as residents, getting clinical training.
"I love New Orleans. I wanted to stay home. I love the people here. Never thought about going anywhere else really," said Michael Modica, who got his first choice in internal medicine at LSUHSC.
Not only do some of the new doctors want to stay here because it's home, but because of the new University Medical Center under construction. They know that part of their residency training will be done in the brand new hospital when it opens next year.
"A lot of opportunities coming with that new hospital, and a lot of new facilities that we get to use. And really, just get to a part of building something here in the city is going to be fantastic," said A.J. Akinkugbe of Alexandria. He got his first choice in psychiatry at LSUHSC as well. He knows there's a shortage of mental health providers in the city and wants to be a part of the solution.
"That (UMC) did have a small factor in it. Yes. I'm excited. It looks wonderful. I can't wait for it to be open. We're all looking forward to it," said Elizabeth Smith, of Lafayette, who will stay at LSUHSC to do her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics. She also wanted to stay close to home.
Some leaving town for training, aren't leaving the need here behind.
"When I chose primary care, I knew that there was a need here and I always wanted to come back and serve the people of New Orleans," said Ashley Matthews of New Orleans who will do her residency at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, but then return here to practice.
With a doctor shortage predicted as more people access health care, the LSUHSC dean says 57 percent, up from 42 percent last year, are going into primary care. And the residency program is expanding.
"We've added certain slots to our program so our residencies are expanding and again that's good news in terms of providing the health care providers for the state, because as you know, 70 percent of the doctors in the state trained at an LSU facility," said Dr. Steve Nelson, LSUHSC, Dean of Medical School. He says on average of the doctors who do their residencies here, 70 percent stay to practice.
Tulane fourth year medical students also had their match this morning. More than a quarter of those students are going into primary care. More of the Tulane medical students are from out-of-state than LSU medical students, but still 39 of 182 of them, will do their specialized training in Louisiana before becoming fully licensed physicians.