Share this story

Early match success for School of Medicine 2020 students

Lauren Colwell, Britney Atwater and Ashley Matthew earn residency spots in competitive programs outside of general match

Ashley Matthew is heading to Virginia Commonwealth University for her urology residency.

While most graduating medical students must wait until the third Friday in March to discover where they will begin their careers as doctors, School of Medicine 2020 class members Lauren Colwell, Britney Atwater and Ashley Matthew learned in January where they will serve their residencies, after participating in early residency matches.

The National Residency Matching Program’s regular match takes place on Match Day, Friday, March 20, when fourth-year medical students at UMass Medical School and across the country are informed at noon where they will begin their careers. Colwell, Atwater and Matthew chose specialties outside of the general match.

Colwell is staying at UMass Medical School as a member of the third cohort of its ophthalmology residency program. Atwater will begin urology residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and fellow future urologist Ashley Matthew is heading to Virginia Commonwealth University after receiving her MD and PhD degrees.

“Growing up, I did not meet many physicians or scientists who looked like me. To graduate with both MD and PhD degrees and match at my first choice means so much to me,” said Matthew. “Not only did I accomplish something I set out to do, but by accomplishing this goal, I feel a renewed sense to continue to inspire other minorities to meet their goals no matter how difficult or how long the road. I want them to know that if I did it, they can too.”

Lauren Colwell is staying at UMass Medical School for her residency in ophthalmology.

Colwell said she got her residency notification while she was rounding with patients during her internal rotation.

“I knew that I would receive an email at 8 a.m. so I excused myself to read it via Skype with my family and partner. I was over the moon when I matched at UMass, but then it was ‘Bye guys, back to rounds!’” she said. “How you match is not as important as knowing your next step as a doctor.”

Matthew and Colwell said they always knew they wanted to be doctors.

“When I envisioned becoming a doctor, I wanted a specialty where I developed long-term patient relationships, prevented the consequences of disease and performed hands-on interventions with meaningful results,” said Colwell. “During third year, I found ophthalmology matched these components perfectly.”

Because early match specialties are very competitive, there is some risk in applying for them.

“I was nervous but so fortunate to have great mentorship from the Department of Ophthalmology,” said Colwell. Shlomit Schaal, MD, PhD, chair and professor of ophthalmology & visual sciences and founder of the UMMS residency program; Misha Faustina, MD, assistant professor and residency director; and other department faculty offered her guidance and support through the early match process.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
LISTEN: UMass Medical School grads share insight on Match Day
Boston Globe details UMMS student Steven Em’s emotional Match Day
Graduating students are ‘awed and grateful’ at UMass Medical School on Match Day