‘Match Day’ comes early for three Upstate med students

SUNY Upstate College of Medicine

These fourth-year medical students at Upstate have "matched" with ophthalmology residency programs. Left to right, Spencer Langevin, Laura Andrews and Mark Breazzano will graduate from Upstate's College of Medicine in May, then spend a year at other institutions before beginning their ophthalmology residencies in 2015.

Even though the official national “Match Day” for fourth-year medical students is two weeks away, three Upstate students already know where they’re going for their medical residencies in ophthalmology.

Tradition dictates that medical residency matches in ophthalmology are finalized earlier than other specialties.

Upstate’s Laura Andrews (University of Maryland), Mark Breazzano (Vanderbilt University) and Spencer Langevin (Nassau University Medical College) will report to those schools in July 2015 after spending a transitional/preliminary year at a medical center to be determined on Match Day March 21. Here’s a look at all three.

Laura Andrews

Laura is a native of Oswego, NY, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan.

On ophthalmology: It is a fascinating field with a good mix of medicine and surgery. I enjoy microsurgery and I like the pace of the clinic and getting better at my exam. It is also a very nice lifestyle for someone who plans to have a family, and there are several interesting subspecialty options. I’m currently most interested in retina but I also enjoy general ophthalmology.

Laura said she’s motivated by “a feeling that I want to be the best that I can possibly be, at whatever I do.” She’s not sure about a career goal, but there are things she likes about both private practice and academic medicine.

“My husband and I will probably try to stay on the east coast or maybe move a little farther south,” she said. “After my training, I’d love to live and work abroad at some point.”

Upstate highlights: Her favorite courses were Anatomy with Dr. Berg and Eye Pathology with Dr. Barker-Griffith. “The friends I made during first year are one of the best parts about med school,” she said.

Mark Breazzano 

Mark is from Manlius, NY, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology from Hamilton College.

On ophthalmology: I realized I was fascinated with the neuro-visual system as soon as I started poking inside optic nerves of horseshoe crabs with electrodes at Upstate’s Center for Vision Research between freshman and sophomore years of college. In my third year of med school, I realized the incredible impact that eye surgeons make. Results are often dramatic, positive and quick, and consequently, with high patient satisfaction. I think it’s really special to be part of a group that can often cure people’s blindness.

Motivation/inspiration: The late Dr. Robert Barlow, my first lab mentor the summer after freshman year of college, had enthusiasm for vision research that was infectious. He taught me a lot about, and instilled a great appreciation for, ophthalmic investigation before his untimely passing in 2009.  At a scholarship banquet during senior year of high school, Dr. Barlow introduced himself and graciously offered me a position in his vision lab.

Career goal: I would certainly enjoy coming back to practice in the area.  In the meantime, I’m excited about living in “Music City” in the South, and perhaps later, checking out other fun places in the country. I would like to have an academic career that combines a clinical and surgical ophthalmic practice with research after fellowship training.  I’m excited that the Vanderbilt Eye Institute has the incredible training quality, reputation, and resources to help make this happen.

Upstate highlights: Studying eye pathology with Dr. Ann Barker-Griffith. On one of my first days doing research in her lab, she was showing me how to “gross” (examine before dissection) an autopsy eye.  After she took the second eye from the jar, she immediately placed this whole eye in my hand.  Both the surprise of her immediate trust in me and having an entire formalin-fixed, human eye in my hand for the first time were quite memorable!

Spencer Langevin

Spencer is from Syracuse, and earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Syracuse University. He is a die-hard SU basketball and Buffalo Bills fan.

On ophthalmology: I chose ophthalmology because I love the mix of medicine and surgery. I also love that I can have an enormous impact on my patient’s quality of life every day. The ability to save or restore vision is one of the greatest honors I could have.

Inspiration/motivation: My father-in-law, Dr. Robert Lopez, at Columbia in NYC. “His vision-saving surgical interventions on children with advanced Retinopathy of Prematurity is why I entered the field,” Spencer said.

Career goal: to become a Vitreo-retinal Surgeon and complete a fellowship in Uveitis. “I want to work in academics in a large urban setting, and have the ability to instruct future residents and fellows,” he said. “I hope to be able to treat babies with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and become a leader in the field of pediatric retina.”

Upstate highlights: Dr. Gregory Eastwood, who taught Bioethics at the Bedside. “He connects with students on an amazing level and really cares about our education,” Spencer said. “My favorite class at Upstate was Physiology, and my favorite clerkship other than ophthalmology was Psychiatry.”


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