Edinburg native Dr. Eduardo Luna is a step closer to becoming an endocrinologist and helping those with diabetes and thyroid conditions in the Rio Grande Valley.
That step starts with the completion of his residency at the UTRGV internal medicine program at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.
“I’ve been a member here for a third year already. I graduate in June,” Luna said. “I found myself at this program here at UTRGV. It’s been an absolute blessing in disguise for me. … I do believe that if you aspire to do what you want to do, you can definitely do it. It’s been great to come back and provide for the community, especially at the RGV.”
Luna received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and is among five students who will graduate in June from the internal medicine program.
After completing his residency, Luna will take part in a fellowship program at UT Health Science Center San Antonio and train for two years in endocrinology and metabolism.
“I understand that the time commitment to try to strive for medicine or any other type of medical field but at the end of it, it’s been completely worth it,” Luna said. “We have wonderful faculty members. Dr. James Hanley, who’s our program director here, has been pretty much pivotal and an inspiration for us. [He] has really, you know, taught us a lot about medicine.”
The internal medicine program at Valley Baptist Medical Center is among the six residency programs UTRGV offers for doctors to undergo clinical training.
For this year’s Match Day, held March 18, the university was paired with 42 doctors from across the nation to take part in these programs.
Applicants from across the country were paired up through a computer-based process by the National Resident Matching Program.
“The match is a system, it’s how we pair applicants to the programs of their choices,” said Dr. Yolanda Gomez, associate dean of Graduate Medical Education. “Some candidates may come and do, like, 10 interviews across the states or even here in Texas. At the end, it’s kind of like Match.com because they put it in order from their best preference to the lowest where they wanna go.”
The programs do the same as the applicants by ranking those who were interviewed by the highest and lowest preference. The NRMP then evaluates the choices of the programs and applicants to match them together, Gomez said.
Nationally, the match this year was the largest on record, with more than 42,000 applicants competing for 30,000 positions, according to a university news release.
Among the students accepted were six new residents for each of the family medicine programs at McAllen Medical Center and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance; 10 residents for internal medicine at Valley Baptist Medical Center; and the remaining 20 for the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, 12 in internal medicine, four in obstetrics and gynecology and four in general surgery.
With the addition of these 42 residents, UTRGV has at least 100 medical residents in training.
Previously, the Valley Baptist and McAllen programs had 27 residents in their programs under UT Health Science Center San Antonio. These students were transferred to UTRGV July 1, according to the news release.
“We’ve had two programs that have been here a while,” Gomez said. “Valley Baptist [Medical Center] internal medicine has been here more than 10 years [and] family medicine McAllen Medical Center has been here more than 30 years.”
The university welcomed the first class of medical residents last June with 42 doctors who were matched in March 2015.
Among those was Dr. Cesar Gutierrez, who advises those who wish to apply for the programs to never give up.
“I had trouble getting into residency, like, this was my second opportunity trying to get into residency,” Gutierrez said. “It’s just never give up. If this is what you really want, then always strive to get what you want. If you fail the first time, then don’t give up and keep fighting. Eventually, you are going to get what you want.”
The Valley native is part of the internal medicine program at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and earned a medical surgeon and midwife degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.
Although the UTRGV School of Medicine did not obtain preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education until Oct. 15, it did not need it for the residency program to start, according to Patrick Gonzales, assistant vice president for University Marketing and Communications.
“The accreditation we were seeking at the time was for the school, so we can educate students to become doctors,” Gonzalez said. “The people that came into the first white coat, they are already doctors, so they do their residencies with the actual hospitals.”
The new residents will begin their orientation June 23 and start their programs July 1.