AUC Grad Matches into First Choice Residency at LSU

Elliott Chen, MD '19 graduated from AUC with not only his top choice residency placement, but also a heightened sense of empathy and an expanded worldview.

AUC Grad Matches into First Choice Residency at LSU
From left to right: Elliott Chen, MD '19 and fellow graduate Daniyal Bashir, MD '19 at an AUC Match reception in Michigan. 

Growing up, Elliott Chen always thought a doctor’s visit was more of a formality than anything else. While he and his family moved around often, each new doctor seemed to follow the same script: Walk in, look at the chart, give a little blurb of advice, and leave. It wasn’t until the last move to Carmel, Indiana, that he encountered a physician who took the time to sit down and have a conversation.  

“To have a doctor show they cared about me and ask how I was really doing—even the first time they met me—was super inspiring,” said Dr. Chen. “That’s what sparked my interest in medicine.”

That interest led him to AUC, where Dr. Chen earned his MD and a first-choice residency placement in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSU) at Shreveport. We caught up with Dr. Chen to learn about the path he took leading up to The MATCH™ and his experiences at AUC.

What attracted you to AUC?

I was impressed by AUC students’ pass rate on the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) Step 1 and AUC’s residency attainment rate. AUC also offered small class sizes and it gave me more of a “family” feeling.

What stands out about your AUC experience?

Going to medical school in Sint Maarten gave me a better worldview and helped me develop my sense of empathy as a person and as a physician. AUC really encourages students to cultivate relationships with the island community. I took pride in getting involved in service projects and supporting a community that opens its arms to us as students and does their best to make us feel at home.

I was also involved in extracurricular activities including being the President of the Asian Student Medical Association (ASMA) and the Secretary of the Pediatric Interest Group (PIG).

As a participant in the Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP), how did the program help prepare you for medical school?

Looking back, I don’t think I would have made it through basic sciences if I hadn’t gone to MERP first. Although I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to start medical school right away, MERP exposed me to concepts I had never learned about before, at a slower pace than medical school. And so, when I started at AUC, many of the 1st and 2nd semester concepts were familiar to me, and I didn’t feel as overwhelmed by the information.

The slower pace also allowed me to figure out how I learn best and made me realize how much of my day would need to be dedicated to studying to do well both at MERP and at AUC. MERP also gave me a group of friends before even getting to Sint Maarten, which made the transition to the island much easier.  MERP was like an introductory course to medical school, and passing the program was a huge confidence boost going into AUC.

What was it like matching into your top choice residency program?

I was speechless—so excited and happy to match into my No. 1 choice.  I wanted to do med peds because I enjoyed both my internal medicine and pediatric rotations during my clinical rotations in Michigan, especially in a hospital setting. This specialty gives me a great opportunity to continue practicing in the hospital after residency, and the potential to pursue fellowships in either field.  In addition to this, I felt like LSU was the perfect fit for me in terms of the people and the fellow residents I’d be spending time with.

Any advice for students entering The MATCH™?

Try to find out what’s important to you early on. It helps you narrow programs down when it comes to ranking. For me it was the fit with the program and co-residents; for others, it may be location, family, or other factors.

During interviews, just be yourself and remember that you’re interviewing them, too. The interview is a great chance to see how you’ll fit in the program, and while you might think all the power is with the program, they’re also trying to appeal to you and get you to rank them highly.

Rank the programs where you want to be, not just programs you think will rank you well. In the end, you don’t want to be placed somewhere that you don’t really like.

Don’t let blemishes on your academic record stop you from applying to great programs around the country. Be prepared with an explanation, but don’t let it define you.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

I want to thank my parents. They’ve always supported me.  I truly couldn’t have done it without them. I’d like to thank my girlfriend Logan too – she’s the one who first told me about AUC, and she’s always been there for me as well. Med school was tough, but she kept me going through it all with her support and kindness. And lastly, I would like to thank all of my professors, attendings, residents and my AUC family for helping me achieve my dreams.  They paved the way by being the best role models for the type of physician I hope to become.