Four OUWB students successful in 2024 early match for ophthalmology

Four members of the OUWB Class of 2024 matched early in ophthalmology on Tuesday, landing highly coveted spots at top institutions across the country.

The four students were: Megan Clontz (Wake Forest University); Caroline Desler (Loyola University - Hines VA Hospital); Konstantinos Koustas (University of Florida - Gainesville); and Thomas Meram (University of Iowa).

Early matches apply to specialties not affiliated with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), which annually holds its Match Day the third Friday in March (on March 15 this year). Military and urology programs also have early matches.

The San Francisco Match administers the Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program, which is sponsored by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO).

OUWB students who matched expressed feelings of “complete joy and excitement,” “exhilaration,” and general relief and happiness.

“It feels so great,” said Desler, who is visiting home in California and woke her family up at 5 a.m. when she found out she matched at her top choice.

“It feels like a lot of hard work has paid off…four years of medical school culminate in this moment,” she added.

Similarly, Koustas — inducted last fall into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Medical Society — matched at his top choice.

“I was exhilarated,” he said. “This year was more competitive than ever so first there’s just a feeling of relief (that you matched), and then getting your top choice is like the cherry on top.”

For her residency, Clontz will be returning home to North Carolina. For the last four years, she and her husband, Nathan Hinshaw, have had a long-distance marriage.

“My initial reaction was complete joy and excitement,” she said. “(Wake Forest) is in my hometown, too, so it’s especially exciting.”

The four students who matched all have different reasons for going into ophthalmology, but all said the general appeal relates to patients’ quality of life.

Clontz, for example, said that ophthalmology was “all-encompassing” regarding her favorite aspects of other rotations. Koustas said that field “checks all the boxes” when it comes to the kind of doctor he wants to be. Desler said she fell in love with ophthalmology while working as a medical scribe for a retina practice.

More from OUWB

Two OUWB Class of 2024 members early match in ‘incredibly competitive’ specialty

Twenty-nine OUWB students inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society

White Coat Ceremony follows busy first year for OUWB Class of 2024

“Additionally, when you meet an ophthalmologist, nine times out of 10 they’re going to be a really nice, welcoming person,” she said. “I wanted to be part of this friendly community.”

Meram, also an AOA inductee, called it an “amazing field” that offers the ability to help patients through surgery and via long term care.

“I liked seeing the instant effect you can have on a patient, but I also wanted to have that long-term, longitudinal aspect of care,” he said. “Ophthalmology offers the perfect balance.”

The students all expressed gratitude for the mentorship they received while working with OUWB clinical faculty from Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak.

Among others, they mentioned George Williams, M.D., chair, Department of Ophthalmology, and Lori Stec, M.D., professor, Department of Ophthalmology, and clerkship director.

The students also mentioned others who have supported them throughout their four years at OUWB. Desler said she appreciated the support of her closest friends, Amanda Mazzoli and Holly Shifman, and especially her mother, who is a pediatrician. Clontz mentioned her parents, husband, and classmates McKenzie Allen and Parisa Bastani. Koustas gave a shout out to his wife, Tymeka. Meram credited his mother, father, and the rest of his family for supporting him on his medical school journey.

And they all expressed a sense of relief and accomplishment, especially since they started medical school in August 2020, when the COVID-19 global pandemic was still heavily impacting life for everyone.

Koustas said it is a testament to the commitment of the students and the OUWB faculty that the Class of 2024 was able to stay on track and succeed.

Meram cited the work ethic of he and his classmates.

“At the end of the day, you make the best of what you have, and it definitely worked out in this case,” he said.

Clontz called it “surreal” to compare the day she matched to just four years ago when the class was going through most of its orientation online.

“We were worrying about classes on top of meeting people and making friends,” she said. “Now, were celebrating with each other…we may have struggled a bit in the beginning, but I feel it really brought our class together and we have a special bond.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.