Match Day marks the culmination of seven-plus years of intense education and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. It’s one of the final hurdles toward becoming a physician. A medical student who doesn’t find a match – i.e., get accepted into an accredited residency program – cannot be licensed to practice medicine.
Dr. Dema Fawaz will never forget the day she “matched” at her top choice -- the Emergency Medicine residency program at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.
It was March 2020, and what had traditionally been a joyous public celebration was reduced to something a bit more solitary – opening an email at noon sharp, alone, in her apartment.
“I’m not going to lie,” Dr. Fawaz said. “It was a huge relief to read “Beaumont, Royal Oak” right there in black and white. After the intensity of medical school and eleven, in-person interviews, it was wonderful to land my top choice. But it was also bittersweet. Typically, you would be surrounded by family and friends. That’s the way every class before COVID always did it.”
Here in Michigan, however, March 2020 was the month the world shut down.
But now, with the COVID pandemic in the rearview mirror, Dr. Fawaz is thrilled that the 2023 graduating class will be able to celebrate their Match Day experience the way it was intended – together. And despite the quiet start, Dr. Fawaz enjoyed her Beaumont residency so much, once her training is complete, she’ll hire on full time in the Emergency Center at the Troy hospital in June.
The occasion will be celebrated properly this time – with family and friends.
“People often ask me: ‘Dema, how do you know you’re in the right place?’” Dr. Fawaz said. “I’ve always loved everything about the Royal Oak hospital: It’s fast-paced, high-volume with varied cases, including pediatrics. But it’s more than just the work. It’s the people.”
Dr. Fawaz continued: “Leadership here is very supportive. They care about us as individuals. They prioritize taking care of a diverse patient population and recruiting a diverse base of new physicians.”
She chose Royal Oak because its emergency center cares for many of the region’s sickest and most severely injured patients. But her problem-solving abilities were put to the test when a young patient came in who had overdosed on an unknown substance. Through intense investigation, Dr Fawaz learned the patient’s only hope for survival was to be connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine or ECMO.
“Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak is one of just a handful of hospitals in Michigan that has this technology,” Dr. Fawaz said. “It was amazing that we were in a position, I was in a position, to do something to help save this young person’s life.”
A few days later, Dr. Fawaz visited her patient in the Intensive Care Unit.
“The patient was so grateful. By the end of the visit, we were both crying. It was a powerful experience. I’ll never forget it,” Fawaz said.
Another recent incident confirmed she hadn’t just found her calling, but also, her people.
“I was at work when I got a text telling me that one of my family members was hurt. Typically, residents don’t leave their patients until the end of a shift, no matter what. But my mentor, Dr. Susan Bork, was firm. She and the team moved mountains to make sure I was covered and let me know it was OK to go. I was so moved; and felt so supported.”
Dr. Fawaz isn’t the only one who feels fortunate to have made a great match.
“Dr. Fawaz is one of the physicians I would want to care for my family,” said her mentor, Dr. Susan Bork, director of operations, Emergency Center, Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “Beyond her knowledge and skill, her devotion to patients and her kind, caring manner, sets her apart. She goes the extra mile for each one of them.”
On Match Day 2023, the third Friday of March, Corewell Health, the largest health system in Michigan, seeks to match 375 new residents for its 22 hospitals and other locations. Currently, more than 1,000 residents work with 11,500 physicians and advanced practice providers, honing skills in surgery, radiology, internal medicine and other areas, under the watchful eye of their mentors and experienced health care providers.