By Hayley Crandall
For many of those out there pursing higher education, figuring out what they want to spend the rest of their life doing can be pretty daunting. The number of paths and topics one person can pursue is seemingly never ending.
In the case of Marisa Román, she had the topic down but the avenue to run with that topic started out as a mystery in the early stages of her education journey.
She knew early on her heart was in working with kids – a passion that would eventually lead her to Match Day, a day that solidifies a medical students’ future with residency.
Having spent years as a Children’s Program volunteer at the Sojourner Family Peace Center, Román met many children and credits them with instilling her with a passion for serving children.
“There is something extra special about the resilience they hold,” said Román. “And how much sort of magic they see in the world.”
Her initial idea was to go into teaching, but she also harbored a love for medicine. Román found that teaching allowed her to give back, which she loved, but medicine allowed her to explore and continue learning.
At a crossroad, advice from her mother gave some guidance.
“She kind of reminded me that if you have even an inkling of doing medicine, you might as well try to do it,” Román explained.
“It’s quite a long road and you don’t want to regret not taking that opportunity.”
Pursuing a career in pediatrics felt like the right balance for everything Román wanted to really do. This gave her the chance to work with children and still explore the world of medicine. At Marquette University, she went on to major in psychology while also taking the appropriate medicine-based classes.
Román also spent two summers with the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Diversity Summer Health-Related Research Education Program which introduces the world of medicine to students from underrepresented backgrounds. During these summers, Román worked on research and soon-to-be-published works with pediatric doctors covering topics like sickle cell disease.
From there it was onto medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin where Román spent two years classroom-based learning and two years in clinical rotations of the hospital.
She completes medical school in May, but not before deciding on a focus for the residency portion of medical training. This is where the pediatrics comes in.
Residency is a three to five-year training period with a medical student’s chosen specialty, Román explained. Some even go on to do extra training in a subspecialty. Pediatrics almost always requires an extra three years of training, according to Román.
She spent her summer applying to residencies across the entire country then visited them for interviews over the span of three months in the fall.
“I applied to a lot,” said Román. “I was generally around the 20 or 25 mark.”
This all leads up to the big grand day: Match Day.
After touring hospitals, the student ranks their top schools. At the same time, the school ranks the students it interviewed.
When they’re each other’s first pick, it’s considered a match.
To celebrate getting a match, Medical College of Wisconsin had a banquet planned out for the students where they revealed their matches to everyone and shared that moment.
Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic, that event was cancelled and Román spent Match Day with immediate family. But the circumstances didn’t rain on her parade. She opened her acceptance letter to the Medical College of Wisconsin’s residency program with family and friends.
“I opened up my letter with my family and had a little bit of a celebration amongst all the hecticness that’s going on. It was perfect, it was a perfect day,” said Román. “I think it’s more important who you share that information with than all of the excitement that comes along with the ceremony.”
It’s been many years of education for Román with many years yet to go, but the entire journey can best be summarized in one word: humbling.
“Overall, it’s been very humbling,” said Román. “You work so hard to get into medical school and then you work very, very hard to continue to progress through. It’s been a good time to take a step back and look at my medical career.”