Kia Ousley, a fourth-year medical student at Texas A&M College of Medicine, has wanted to be a physician ever since she was in eighth grade. Even at that early age, she knew what type of doctor she wanted to be – a family doctor, because that is the type of doctor she saw in her hometown of Goliad, Texas.

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Fourth-year medical student Kia Ousley waits to learn where she will be doing her residency during the College of Medicine’s 2015 Match Day event.

Ousley moved one step closer to her dream March 20 when she found out she has been accepted to a family medicine residency program at UT-Tyler. After completing this three-year residency, Ousley will be able to return to Goliad – or another small town like it – and practice medicine on her own.

Ousley was among 191 fourth-year medical students from the Texas A&M College of Medicine who recently found out where they will be doing their residencies. The occasion was “Match Day” – an annual ritual where all graduating medical students in the United States learn where they have been “matched” to do their graduate medical education, also known as residencies. Since there are more medical students graduating nationally than there are residency slots, some students applied to as many as 100 different programs in order to secure a residency in the specialty of their choice.

Ousley wants to stay in Texas, so she applied to 14 family practice residency programs in the state, and interviewed with nine of them. She did rotations at several different locations, but “knew right away” that UT-Tyler was where she wanted to do her residency.

“There is a big need for doctors in small towns,” Ousley said. “That’s why I picked Tyler.”

The Texas A&M College of Medicine held its 2015 Match Day ceremony in a ballroom at La Frontera Marriott in Round Rock that was packed with soon-to-be-graduates and their families. Each student picked a favorite song to be played as they walked to the front of the room to get their envelope and receive congratulations from Paul Ogden, M.D., interim dean of the College of Medicine.

With her parents and grandmother sitting next to her, Ousley waited patiently until all the envelopes were passed out and the students were allowed to simultaneously open them.

Like Ousley, about half of the students graduating from the Texas A&M College of Medicine this year will be staying in Texas for their residencies. Some soon-to-be graduates were awarded residencies in the most prestigious programs, both in Texas and across the nation. These include programs at Baylor College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Additionally, there were six military matches, a point of pride for a Texas A&M college with roots in military education and a devotion to selfless service.

About half the graduating medical students from Texas A&M will be pursuing careers in primary care such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. Seventeen percent of this year’s students were matched into high-demand specialty areas such as dermatology, orthopaedic surgery, radiology and general surgery. The remainder of the graduates plan to pursue careers in a wide range of fields, including anesthesiology, neurology, otolaryngology, pathology and psychiatry.

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Casey Roth places her picture on the map showing where medical students will be going to do their residencies. She and three of her classmates all matched with an ob/gyn residency program in Dallas, which was her first choice.

“With the increasing population of Texas, we will need more and more physicians in our state, both primary care and specialty physicians,” Ogden said. “We are dedicated to providing the state with the best possible health care through our graduates and it’s great to see so many stay in the state. This is always one of our favorite days in medical school.”

After the students all opened their envelopes and shared the good news with family members and classmates, they went over to a map of the United States and put a picture of themselves in the location where they will be doing their residencies beginning in July.

“It’s really hard to believe I will be in the final years of my training soon,” Ousley said. “It’s a dream come true to have a job I’ve wanted since I was a kid.”

— Ellen Davis

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Texas A&M medical students learn what the future holds during annual “Match Day” event