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South LA med students offered residencies on Match Day

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Charles Drew University and USC medical students were among the 17,400-plus nationwide to be matched to their residencies on Friday, where they will spend the next several years training as a physician.

Sixteen fourth-year medical students from Charles R. Drew University and 157 from USC were told where they'd be spending the next several years as a resident on Friday, in a national annual event known as Match Day.

That's when fourth-years are "matched" to their residencies, which will mark the end of medical school and the beginning of their work as an actual doctor. Residents train in the medical field under the supervision of a physician for up to seven years, depending on their specialty. Following the successful completion of a residency, they'll be eligible to become board-certified.

The National Resident Matching Program reported that across the U.S., the number of medical students who registered to match in 2013 topped 40,000 for the first time ever,  and resulted in more than 17,400 matches. The program also noted that the number who chose primary care rose by nearly 400 compared to 2012.

That's encouraging to folks in the health sector who are worried that there won't be enough primary care doctors to stem the tide of patient demand that's expected to accompany new provisions of the Affordable Care Act slated to go into effect at the beginning of 2014.

Drew bucked that trend somewhat, though. Only seven of the 16 fourth-year students were matched to primary care specialties: one to family medicine, two to internal medicine, three to obstetrics and gynecology, and one to pediatrics.

The other nine were matched to specialties including psychiatry, emergency medicine, dermatology and anesthesiology. Surgery was Drew's most popular match, with four students offered residencies in that area.

This year's trend marks a change from at least one point in the school's history. Dr. Raquel Soto, a Drew graduate who now practices family medicine at Harbor/UCLA, said of the 24 doctors in her graduating class, 18 chose to go into family medicine.

Drew, which is located in South L.A., reported that 11 of its new residents will remain in Southern California; of those, 10 will remain in Los Angeles.

USC, the other medical school in South L.A., said in a memo that internal medicine and emergency medicine were its most popular residencies this year, with 28 fourth-year students being matched to each. Obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedic surgery and radiology each matched 11 students.

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