Outside, lightning struck and thunder rolled. But inside the Emory Student Center on the rainy morning of Friday, March 18, medical students in the Class of 2022 and their families gathered, excited to find out where they would serve their residencies.
This was the first in-person Match Day since 2019, due to COVID-19 restrictions. The ceremony still showed signs of the times, however, with most attendees wearing masks and the match envelopes spread atop several tables instead of just one, to allow for less surging and more social distancing. The past two years of medical school for this class were, indeed, altered by the global pandemic.
“I think COVID impacted medical education throughout the world, but I'm proud that Emory was innovative and offered electives for us to take during the height of the pandemic to minimize the impact on our education. It was an honor to provide care to COVID patients and their families and I'm thankful that Emory afforded us numerous opportunities to be able to do so." — Medical Class President Eman Hijab
“It is a privilege to join you today for a live, in-person Emory match,” said Dean Vikas Sukhatme, to enthusiastic applause. “And despite the ominous clouds and all that's outside, it fills me with great joy to see the energy and the optimism in this room.”
Emory President Gregory L. Fenves also congratulated the class, the largest in the medical school’s more than 100-year history. “Together you are stepping into a world that needs your care and your expertise like never before,” he said. “I know with skill, compassion and the outstanding preparation you’ve received here at Emory you will rise to that challenge, saving lives and serving humanity.”
As the clock struck noon, students rushed the tables at the front of the ballroom to find out where they will begin their careers as doctors. Cheers and tears burst out among small clusters of family and friends. “I got my top choice!” exclaimed several students clad in their white coats.
Emory medical students were among thousands across the country receiving positions at U.S. teaching hospitals through the National Residency Match Program. Residents are licensed physicians who care for patients under the supervision of attending physicians.
“As you all celebrate this accomplishment… it is an accomplishment for your whole class. You all have supported each other, been with each other, taken care of each other." — J. William Eley, executive associate dean of medical education and student affairs
Of the 146 Emory medical students who obtained a residency in this year’s match, 35 will spend all or part of their residency training in the state of Georgia, 34 will begin their training at Emory, and 28 will remain at Emory for their entire residency.
In addition to Emory, students will receive residency training at other prominent institutions, including Harvard, University of California San Francisco, Johns Hopkins, University of Colorado, University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh, University of Chicago, Duke, Cornell, Stanford, Columbia and others. Earlier this year, two students matched in the U.S. military.
The specialties chosen most frequently by class members for their residencies were internal medicine (33), pediatrics (15), neurology (9), ob/gyn (9), psychiatry (9), ophthalmology (8), emergency medicine (7) and surgery (7).
Below, a few members of Emory’s School of Medicine Class of 2022 share their backgrounds, aspirations and why they chose Emory for their medical education.
Alyssa Greenhouse: Matched at Harvard/Mass General
“From training next to the CDC and working with CDC officials on gun violence prevention to caring for patients at Atlanta’s safety-net hospital, Grady Memorial, Emory has been a one-of-kind place to receive my medical education. Even as a medical student, you can really make a difference here if you're passionate about something.” — Alyssa Greenhouse
Alyssa Greenhouse, 2022 doctor of medicine (MD) and master of public health (MPH) candidate, is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, and went to Duke University for undergrad, majoring in public policy.
“Both of my parents went to Emory School of Medicine and now practice geriatric (father) and pediatric (mother) medicine in Columbia. While it sounds cliché, from this upbringing, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine,” says Greenhouse. “My mom is a passionate advocate for her pediatric patients, which inspired me to become interested in advocacy, public health and public policy and how they affect the health of patients and our community. I wanted to train at a medical school that valued this.”
Being at Emory, Greenhouse had opportunities to work at the intersection of medicine, public health and policy. Her years at Emory were also shaped significantly by the incredible mentors and peers she trained alongside, and the advocacy work she took part in.
“I remember sitting in the office of one of the School of Medicine deans in 2017, distressed by the horrific tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting. My dean listened, was empathetic and then encouraged me to 'go do something about it.’ I can’t imagine he had any idea how impactful that conversation would be on my medical school trajectory,” says Greenhouse.
A month later, she and her peers hosted an Advocacy Day for Gun Violence Prevention, which has been followed by five years of School of Medicine events and curricular advancements in firearm safety education and training. “Even as a medical student, you can really make a difference here if you’re passionate about something,” says Greenhouse, who works as an advocate for gun safety
Greenhouse has also been involved with the nonprofit Health Students Taking Action Together (H-STAT) since her first year at Emory. This interdisciplinary and inter-institutional organization of graduate students has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation to become the best advocate she can be for her patients and community.
“While being a medical student during the pandemic was frustrating, scary and isolating at times, it was also extremely rewarding to take part in some of the COVID-19 response. Being part of the initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administering shots to frontline health workers and our high-risk community members in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium is an experience I will never forget. Additionally, I had the privilege of working with inspiring Emory and Morehouse School of Medicine faculty members and Grady administration leaders to create a medical student-run COVID-19 outreach response program for high-risk patients that is still ongoing.”
Eman Hijab: Matched at Duke
“I hope that when I look at the words on that piece of paper, I can hold my head high not only for continually persevering in the face of adversity but for trying my best to represent Pakistani Muslim Americans in a very positive light. Working hard is my way to say thank you to my beautiful family, and to commemorate the sacrifices my family made to afford me a life of opportunities. Therefore, Match Day isn’t just a celebration of me but it’s a celebration of all those that supported me along the way — including Emory — without whom, I truly wouldn’t have been able to make it this far.” — Eman Hijab
Eman Hijab, 2022 doctor of medicine (MD) candidate, is originally from Chicago and went to the University of Michigan for undergrad where she dual-majored in evolutionary anthropology and neuroscience.
Emory has always been a place that is dear to Hijab because when her family immigrated to America in 2001 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, their first U.S. home was in Atlanta. Her mother held a variety of jobs and did research at Emory to support their family in the hopes of restarting her residency career in America.
Hijab’s mother began her residency in Chicago in 2003, which she largely credits to the work she did at Emory. “That’s why when I got into Emory for medical school, it felt so special, like our journey went full-circle. I ended up at the first institution that set our family — particularly my mom — up for success and allowed us to have a second chance at life in America,” says Hijab.
Match Day revealed where Hijab will continue her training in internal medicine and dermatology. “I fell in love with two specialties throughout my medical school career and felt as though I could not pick just one by the time it came to interview. Therefore, I dual-applied in internal medicine, dermatology, and to some combined internal medicine-dermatology residency training programs,” she says.
“What is most important to me is that my parents are proud — both my mother, who will be in attendance and who has been my role model and a steadfast pillar of strength for our family, and my father, who unexpectedly and suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. I pray he is looking over his little girl on Match Day and smiling down from above."
During her time at Emory, Hijab’s most memorable experience has been serving for four years as class president. She initially sought out the position because as a Pakistani Muslim American, she felt a bit out of place amongst her colleagues and wanted a platform where she could foster and promote unity. Being in this elected role has allowed her to facilitate meaningful relationships with her peers and deans and taught her the importance of building trust within relationships.
“Students often reached out with academic and mental health issues, and it felt humbling to be a valuable resource and of comfort to them. My classmates and deans were also there to support me, and I feel honored to have come to know them at such a meaningful level,” says Hijab.
Hijab received the Umoja Kwanzaa Award her first year as class president by her peers for demonstrating leadership and fostering unity. She helped pass the “Anti-Racism in Medicine” proposal which is now a MD curricular thread at Emory, and has elected student representatives from each class to further promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
Hijab has been heavily involved in medical education. “I got to lead a Grand Rounds on the use of ultrasound within dermatology, lead another Grand Rounds on cultural humility as part of my Discovery Phase research project, revised the first-year dermatology curriculum to include greater skin of color patient representation, was an Internal Medicine Peer Mentor and helped build a pediatric dermatology curriculum for my peers on third-year rotations,” she says.
Her favorite memory during clinicals was delivering a baby during Gynecology and Obstetrics rotation. “It felt empowering to know that medical students at Emory have a role to play during one of life’s most important moments. I was deeply moved by that experience. There were numerous times on other clinical rotations where I found these same sentiments holding true,” says Hijab.
Hijab enjoys binge-watching Netflix and other TV shows, playing board games (Settlers of Catan is a favorite), and writing. Her essay, “Not all heroes wear PPE: masking our unmasked heroes” was awarded a third-place prize in an essay contest by Emory’s Healthcare Innovation Program and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Emaline Laney: Matched at Harvard/Brigham and Women's
“Clinical training only known within the context of the pandemic has made clearer that being a physician requires going beyond the exam room, that the technical is necessary but insufficient to re-envision equitable and sustainable models of care much overdue for our patients and society.” — Emaline Laney
Emaline Laney, 2022 doctor of medicine (MD) candidate, is originally from Philadelphia. Her commitment to medicine and health equity solidified early as a high school student in France, where she was exposed to global health opportunities. This led her to Agnes Scott College, a small women’s college in Decatur, Georgia, where she studied chemistry and public health for undergrad.
“I was fortunate to be accepted to Emory School of Medicine after my senior year of college, though it would be another two years until I would start. Unexpectedly, I received the opportunity to study in the UK where I completed a double master’s in epidemiology and medical anthropology before returning to Atlanta,” says Laney.
As she continues her training in internal medicine, Laney aims “to combine epidemiology, medical anthropology and medicine to re-analyze the systems that far too often fall short for our patients and communities,” she says.
During her time at Emory, Laney had the opportunity to co-write and implement the School of Medicine’s “Climate Change and Environmental Health” preclinical curriculum, which was one of the first longitudinal curricula on climate change and environmental health in U.S. medical schools and was recently approved as a four-year curricular thread. She also attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, late last year, inspiring her current internship with the Global Climate and Health Alliance. She won the Graduate Student Sustainability Innovator award by Emory’s Office of Sustainability as co-founder of Emory Medical Students for Climate Action, galvanizing conversations in the School of Medicine and publishing work on climate change, health equity and social and racial justice.
In addition to her climate work, Laney spent the last nearly four years caring for those experiencing homelessness in partnership with Mercy Care. This took the form of several roles, first as a student clinic coordinator for the Decatur Street and Central Night clinics, then as a volunteer coordinator for the joint Mercy Care-CDC rollout of SARS-CoV-2 tests for those experiencing homelessness, and now as the Street Medicine student co-program director.
“This was an incredibly meaningful experience,” she shares. “It was one of the first times I saw people practicing medicine in the way I could only aspire to one day — grounded in community partnership and meeting patients where they are.”
Stephen Gurley: Matched at Emory
“Caring for patients at Grady has been the greatest honor of my academic and professional life, and I would love to continue that mission. During my MD/MPH work I have fostered a great deal of connections and mentors across the School of Medicine, the Rollins School of Public Health and the CDC, with whom I would love to continue to collaborate.” — Stephen Gurley
Stephen Gurley, 2022 doctor of medicine (MD) candidate, is originally from Reston, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He attended the College of William & Mary for undergrad and while there took an “Emerging Infectious Disease” course taught by a premed advisor. In that class, he was introduced to the world of public health and the myriad careers that exist at the intersection of clinical medicine and public health.
While applying to medical school, Gurley was impressed by Emory’s location in the “public health capital of the country,” its close collaboration with the CDC and its commitment to serving the underserved of Atlanta at Grady Memorial Hospital. After graduating, he came to Emory for the MD/Master of Public Health (MPH) dual degree program.
During his time at Emory, Gurley served as a lead coordinator for the Clarkston Community Health Center, a free clinic primarily for refugees and recent immigrants in Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta. He also led a group of students on a cultural and educational exchange trip to the Tibetan community-in-exile in Dharamshala, India. There, he learned traditional Tibetan medical practices and culture at a Tibetan medical school.
Gurley served as president of the student-led 501(c)3 nonprofit Health Students Taking Action Together (H-STAT), an advocacy organization of health professional graduate students from across the state who aim to make Georgia a healthier and more equitable place for all. “Some of our most memorable initiatives have been lobbying for a bill to cap the price of insulin and partnering with Mercy Care’s Street Medicine to provide care to those experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” he says. Read more about Gurley’s work with H-STAT.
Gurley reflects on experiencing medical school during a pandemic. “While it certainly brought its own challenges, including having to interview for residencies virtually, it was amazing to see how well the Emory School of Medicine community came together in the early days of the pandemic to meet the needs of the wider community. We organized blood drives, conducted COVID-19 testing and provided vaccinations.” Read more about Gurley’s research.