Matt Schorr
April 1, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Match Day is the culmination of four challenging years. In some ways, it’s the most exciting day of the medical school experience. Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students receive notice of their residency placements, and they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

Such an event typically calls for pomp and circumstance. Vanderbilt holds a ceremony honoring the future healthcare providers, and then sponsors a reception for students, faculty, family and friends.

Former Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Applied Experience student Rohini Chakravarthy’s experience – and that of her fellow Match Day graduates – was different.

 

Virtual ceremony

“We did a virtual ceremony,” Chakravarthy recalled.

In order to accommodate social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the event was revamped into an online ceremony. Rather than open an envelope in Langford Auditorium, Chakravarthy opened an email notifying her where she’d spend her residency.

Key elements of the day went unchanged. Donald Brady, MD, Senior Associate Dean of Health Sciences, and Amy Fleming, MD, MHPE, Associate Dean for Medical Student Affairs, kicked off the ceremony via livestream from Light Hall, where they read welcomes and congratulations from faculty and staff. Fleming called student names at random. Then, one by one, each student virtually revealed they had matched.

For Chakravarthy, that was Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.

 

Unique and difficult time

“I’m supposed to start July 1,” she said. “I know some schools in New York are graduating early to help, but that hasn’t happened here yet.”

Chakravarthy will enter her field at a unique and difficult time. The United States currently has more confirmed COVID-19 infections than any other nation in the world, and healthcare workers are feeling that strain.

“My heart definitely goes out to people on the front lines as physicians,” she commented. “I can appreciate how challenging that is, and I’ll be there in a few months.”

Once she enters her residency training, Chakravarthy will work in internal medicine. She’ll work with urban health programs, focusing on care for patients in vulnerable populations.

 

‘Excited to participate’

“I’ll have rotations in jails, underserved communities, inner cities and rural areas,” Chakravarthy said. “There are some unique aspects of this program I’m excited to participate in.”

She opted for internal medicine for well-rounded training that she believes will not only teach her clinical care, but also prepare her to become a physician leader. Her goal is to lead programs that help patients stay out of the hospital and remain healthy.

“At the end of three years, if I were to feel comfortable in those roles, I think it would be a success,” she said.

 

‘Grateful for all the support’

“I think Johns Hopkins will be a great place to continue what the MVA taught me, in terms of recognizing that not everyone has the same access to healthcare, and do my best to make that more equal,” Chakravarthy noted. “Each neighborhood has its own socioeconomic status. I think being aware of those things through learning at that MVA is an awareness I’ll take with me.”

Chakravarthy was a part of the MVA’S Applied Experience from 2018 – 2019. During that time, she worked with a key precision medicine initiative, examining how social determinants impact cervical cancer outcomes.

“I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve received from Vanderbilt, from the MVA, from family and friends,” she said.

 

About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshop.