Celebrating the next generation of doctors — and those who prepared them

Today is National Doctors’ Day, a time to celebrate and thank those who keep us healthy, even during the challenges of a global pandemic.

Recently on Match Day, future doctors at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac discovered where they will continue their careers.

The 96 members of the Class of 2022 matched with residencies in 17 different specialties and subspecialties across 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Sometimes a smile is the best medicine

As a boy growing up in Liberia, Samuel Oduwole, MD ’22, and his family were caught in the teeth of back-to-back civil wars. The bloodshed, the violence, the death—it was hardly the cradle of a dream.

Fast-forward a lifetime.

On March 18, Oduwole opened his Match Day envelope at Burt Kahn Court and flashed his signature smile, the smile of 1,000 stars. The dream, like Oduwole, will endure.

He will spend the next five years as an orthopaedic surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, his adopted hometown.

“It’s a surreal moment,” said Oduwole, the oldest of John and Cynthia Oduwole’s nine children. “But this moment is not a moment for me. It is a moment for us. I want to be an example to my siblings and show them that hard work pays off. My parents sacrificed so much for us to get here.”

Oduwole was 8 years old when he immigrated to Philadelphia. His father left Liberia in 1999 to find a job and establish a new home for the family. His mother followed the next year while the children stayed in Libera with their grandparents and other relatives in a multigenerational home.

The Oduwole family was reunited in America in 2001, eager to begin a new life free from persecution.

“It was a big transition, but once we were together, we all had each other,” Oduwole said, smiling once again. “I’ve always loved learning. I almost decided to do a PhD in micro and molecular biology, but then I decided to go to medical school instead.”

Oduwole first studied musculoskeletal care as a clinical researcher with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, with his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he will return to his roots.

At Quinnipiac, Oduwole has found success in medicine as well as business. Last year, he and Miguel Arasa, MD ’22, won the top prize in the People’s United Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition.

Oduwole and Arasa collaborated with their co-founders to develop MSK Curbsider, an app that helps emergency room physicians treat patients with musculoskeletal issues. Earlier this year, MSK Curbsider was chosen by the Accelerator for Biosciences in Connecticut as one of nine new ventures to participate in a rigorous program to develop fundable business plans for biosciences in the state.

“You can change people’s lives as an orthopedic surgeon,” Oduwole said. “Someone could come in with a traumatic injury, and you could give them the ability to walk again. You could restore their quality of life. You could give them that gift.”

Oduwole and his wife, Karen McDonald, are expecting a gift of their own in August, the next dream for this former Liberian refugee.

“My goal wherever I go is to impact the culture and the people in a positive way,” Oduwole said. “As a father and husband, I could not ask for a greater blessing. As a physician, I am just as grateful for this opportunity to help others.”

A commitment to service — and each other

Before Edward Richardson, MD ’22, and Shanelle D’Alessio, MD ’22, opened their envelopes on Match Day, they opened their hearts to underserved patients at the Bobcat Community Health Alliance in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The student-run free clinic gives Quinnipiac Netter students the opportunity to learn about the unique challenges of caring for vulnerable populations.

For D’Alessio and Richardson, volunteering at the clinic brought them closer to patients who need free health screenings, health education and acute care.

It also brought them closer to each other.

“We did service leadership together throughout our time in medical school. We really felt connected to the community,” said Richardson, who served as the director of health screening. “That was one of our favorite things in medical school.”

Looking beyond medical school, Richardson and D’Alessio both matched at Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital earlier this month.

D’Alessio, who is from East Lyme, Connecticut, matched with a pediatrics residency. Richardson, who grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, matched with an internal medicine residency to secure a spot in “the family business,” as he calls it.

Richardson is a third-generation physician. His grandfather is a retired ophthalmologist, and his father is a noted oncologist who practices at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Along with following in their footsteps, Richardson hopes to subspecialize in the treatment of chronic illnesses such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

D’Alessio is the first physician in her family. While she’s uncertain of a subspecialty at this point, she’s eager to explore those opportunities during her residency.

Like the rest of the Class of 2022, D’Alessio and Richardson summoned the courage to push through the pandemic during their rotations. Somehow, they found the grace and the clarity to do their jobs — even through goggles, two or three masks, and untold layers of PPE.

“There was this pervasive uncertainty during that time,” Richardson said. “We were in a lot of clinical situations where you were unsure about whether you were going to be exposed to COVID. But as people do during times of crisis, we relied on our community members and our loved ones to help us through.”

D’Alessio agreed.

“The isolation of COVID touched our class,” she said. “Going through the pandemic during the hardest year of medical school was a huge challenge for all of us. But as we go forward as residents, we know how to take care of each other and support each other. I’m very grateful for that.”

The students were well prepared by the school's talented professors.

"Our clinical faculty serve as role models, teachers, supervisors, coaches, mentors, and advisers to our students — all crucial roles in the development and nurturing of future physicians," said Dr. Lyuba Konopasek, M.D., senior associate dean for education and professor of medical sciences. "Throughout the pandemic, they have modeled courage, compassion, and commitment to the care of patients and to the education of future generations of physicians. We are tremendously grateful for their dedication to our students and send our heartfelt appreciation on National Doctor’s Day."

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