The Wait is Over: It’s Match Day 2020

March 29, 2020    |  

Even as physicians across the United States and around the world confront the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the importance of the residency match is more evident than ever. According to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), this year’s Main Residency Match is the largest in history, exceeding the more than 44,000 applicants who registered for the 2019 Match.

This year, 161 University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) students matched at 73 different hospitals in 29 states. Thirty-eight members of the Class of 2020 will stay in Maryland for their residency training. Among these students is Jasmine Blake, MSPH. From a young age, Blake had a natural curiosity for medicine and science. “My annual doctors’ visit was my favorite day of the year!” she said. However, growing up in a rural and medically underserved community, her yearly checkups were sometimes the only exposures she had to the field.


(l-r) Jasmine Blake, Chelsea Alvarado, Helen Cheung, Braden Anderson, Cristian Salgado

(l-r) Jasmine Blake, Chelsea Alvarado, Helen Cheung, Braden Anderson, Cristian Salgado

“I credit my family, teachers, and mentors for realizing my potential early on and helping me in nurturing my gifts,” she noted. Prior to medical school, Blake earned a Master of Science in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and worked in Bangladesh learning about health systems.

“Those experiences further solidified my interest in medicine and, more particularly, my desire for caring for marginalized populations,” she said. Blake, who is set to graduate in May, will become the first doctor in her family. She matched in internal medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Braden Anderson also is the first in his family to become a physician. Most of his early exposures to medicine were through sports injuries he suffered while playing football through college.

“Back then, I always wanted to know more,” he said. “I remember reading up on my injuries to get a better understanding of what was really going on.” Anderson’s curiosity for finding cures to his pain ultimately propelled his passion for radiology. He will be joining the University of Chicago Medical Center in diagnostic radiology.

“Medicine has always been in my blood,” said Alexandra Laps, who comes from a long line of podiatric physicians. And although she loved the hands-on approach to podiatry, she desired to learn how to take care of the entire body.

“This is what ultimately drew me to emergency medicine,” she said. “I am excited about a future career in which I can learn to do a variety of procedures from head to toe.” Laps matched with emergency medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital.

While Cristian Salgado loved science and research, it wasn’t until he started volunteering at clinics that his passion for medicine crystalized.

“I wanted to combine all my interests and passions,” he said. “I discovered that becoming a doctor would allow me serve others, which is something that I want to do every day.”

Salgado looks forward to a career in pediatrics and academic medicine and credits his family for its unwavering support throughout his medical journey abroad.

“My parents, my brother, and all of my family are still back home in Ecuador. It is a great honor to represent all of them every day,” he said. Salgado matched in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Helen Cheung also found her passion for medicine through service. While in college, she dedicated several hours working one-on-one with families in navigating access to health care, food, and housing.

“These encounters, along with several others, opened my eyes to the link between poverty and poor health,” she said. Cheung also looks forward to her training in pediatrics and will be couple matching with her fiancé, Michael Tzeng, who will be pursuing internal medicine also at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The couple will be getting married in May.

Chelsea Alvarado’s affinity for basic science led her to pursue a career in pharmacy, but an unexpected diagnosis in her family changed the trajectory of her life. “When my father was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, I started to re-evaluate my career path,” she said. “Subsequently, I began shadowing physicians and learned how multifaceted the medicine profession was.”

Alvarado has decided to pursue a career in family medicine and looks forward to caring for vulnerable patients throughout their lives. She matched at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

“I have learned so much over these years and I remain humbled and thankful to have received my medical training at the University of Maryland,” she said.