Sixty-seven fledgling doctors from the UC Riverside School of Medicine received notifications Friday — via an online system to keep them at home during the novel coronavirus emergency — about where they will be doing their residency programs, marking the start of their medical careers.

“All our students matched into excellent residency programs,” Dr. Deborah Deas, vice chancellor for UCR Health Sciences, said during a livestream. “We are proud of your accomplishments and are grateful to have been a part of your journey. We thank the families and friends of our students for their unwavering support during this journey. We are so happy that the online technology allowed us to come together to celebrate this day.”

The School of Medicine’s fourth graduating class connected virtually via Zoom, observing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order for California residents who are not in various essential job classifications to avoid public outings as much as possible to safeguard against coronavirus exposure.

According to UCR, 56% of the graduates will perform residencies in Southern California — with 25% in the Inland Empire — while the balance will go elsewhere in the state or out-of-state to complete their training.

“With the social distancing measures implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, our traditional in-person celebration wasn’t possible,” Deas said. “I am so grateful to all the staff and faculty members who, despite rapidly changing circumstances, worked long hours together to create an online event that rivaled the traditional one. They went above and beyond to make Match Day 2020 a great and memorable celebration for our students.”

The National Resident Matching Program involves more than 150 medical schools throughout the country. Applicants seek placement at various institutions and learn on the third Friday of March where they have been “matched.”

Antonio Garcia, who is seeking a career in family medicine, said he was thrilled to be staying in the region, working under the supervision of UCR professors, for his residency.

“It keeps me home and allows me to continue to work to improve and help those in my community in the Inland Empire,” Garcia said.

His fellow white coat graduate, Kleshie Baisie, said she was looking forward to entering the pediatrics program at Stanford University.

“This residency experience will give me the tools and knowledge that will allow me to return to the Inland Empire as a pediatrician, who actively works to promote community wellness by enriching the health of its youngest members,” she said.

In 2012, the UCR School of Medicine was the first medical school to open in the UC system in more than four decades.

Certification of the school involved a rigorous process that began in 2005. Start-up funding for the program was provided by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Kaiser Permanente of Southern California and philanthropic entities. The school now receives appropriations from the state.

The Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, Loma Linda University Medical Center and other area facilities partner with UCR to provide educational and training opportunities for students.

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