When Wilfredo Matias (pictured above: back row, second from left) and his family immigrated to the U.S. and settled down in New York, he was troubled by the inequities facing underserved residents in the city, particularly around health care quality and access.
He thought often of his grandfather, a physician serving the local community back in their home country, the Dominican Republic. Those two sources of inspiration – a desire to help those in need and a role model for doing so – led Matias to pursue a career in medicine and landed him at Harvard Medical School.
Now, Matias looks forward to continuing his training and helping care for patients in local communities the Brigham serves as one of the hospital’s 74 incoming interns selected for BWH’s Internal Medicine Residency Program on Match Day, March 17.
“The mission of the hospital is fantastic, and the community we serve is incredibly diverse,” said Matias, who completed a rotation at BWH as a third-year medical student. He had especially enjoyed the opportunity to interact with patients from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
“When I opened the envelope and saw the words ‘Brigham and Women’s Hospital,’ I went from feeling super stressed to thinking, ‘Yes, I get to be part of a place that truly invests in their people and has a culture I really admire,” he added. “Everyone here wants to help you figure out the kind of doctor you want to be, the impact you want to have and the means to accomplish that. That is pretty exceptional.”
Feels Like Family
Those feelings of welcoming and support were echoed by other newly matched interns who celebrated their acceptance into the program with BWH residents, faculty and staff that evening during a reception in the Zinner Breakout Room.
“What distinguishes the Brigham is the sense of family you feel here, which is truly unique,” said Aaron Cohen, who also graduates from HMS this spring. “When I’m here, I feel like I am part of a strong community that’s supportive and loving. That’s what has struck me most.”
Friend, classmate and fellow incoming intern Chijioke Nze, MPH, agreed that while BWH is a large hospital, he was moved by how it feels like a tight-knit community.
“There’s something very genuine about the family feeling I get from here,” said Nze. “A lot of my mentors are at the Brigham, most notably Dr. Fidencio Saldaña, so I’m very excited to work somewhere he calls home.”
Similarly, Ellen Nagami, of Tufts Medical School, said she couldn’t stop smiling when she learned she had matched to BWH.
“I’m really excited to work with the Brigham residents and attendings,” Nagami said. “I was able to rotate at BWH and BWFH, and I really loved the people with whom I worked and the experiences I had here.”
Jennifer Yeh, of HMS, who will begin her preliminary medicine residency at the Brigham this year, was elated to be matched to BWH, her top choice during the selection process.
“Medical education is a strong priority here, and this feels like an environment where I could develop my own skills at becoming a good teacher,” Yeh said. “This was my first choice because I liked working with all of the residents here as a medical student. Not only are they great physicians, but they’re also incredibly intelligent and caring people.”
Joel Katz, MD, director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, has welcomed interns to the Brigham on Match Day for the past 17 years. He says seeing so many talented, enthusiastic and altruistic people who want to pursue a career in medicine is an inspiring experience each year.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be a doctor, and we matched 74 people who will be great doctors,” Katz said. “My advice for them is to concentrate on the unique, intimate learning experiences possible in the intern year: Accept it, embrace it, devote yourselves to the well-being of your patients, find what’s good, pass over what’s bad and turn to colleagues and friends for help when needed. Medicine is very much a team sport. We’re like family.”