BUFFALO, N.Y. — Medical school is hard enough as is, but throw in a pandemic and everything gets more complicated.

With the graduating class knowing where they’re headed for residencies, they’re looking back on these few years. Some say they might just feel more prepared than ever.

March 18, 2022 was a day filled with screams and tears of joy.

It was Match Day for med students across the country, but it took a lot to get here.

“We have an obligation to them. They came to school and I don't think anybody planned for the pandemic,” said Dr. Alan Lesse, the senior associate dean for medical curriculum at the Jacobs School of Medicine 

Lesse knows these students and what it takes to become a doctor: two pre-clinical years full of mainly classes, and two clinical years that become more hands-on.

For this year’s graduating class, both those sections were impacted by COVID-19.

“Both family medicine and internal medicine now give students more training in telemedicine if they're doing those activities,” Lesse explained. “It's becoming more and more of a sort of way of practicing medicine, so we'll be doing more education on that as well.”

There were challenges.

“Just dealing with COVID patients, but then also dealing with how the hospital system reacted,” recalled graduating medical student Neneyo Mate-Kole. “It was very difficult.”

Adaptation was key.

“My step one exam was canceled and I couldn't schedule a test date because the testing sites were trying to figure out how to make enough room for everyone to take the test safely,” added Ellen Lutnick, another graduating medical student. “I was like, ‘well, I might not be able to take my boards. I might not be able to continue on with my education.’” 

But those problems were overcome and the struggles were rewarded in time.

“Howard [University] for my prelim and then I’m going to be at the University of Chicago for my PM&R,” read Mate-Kole from his residency match letter.

Students like Mate-Kole and Lutnick are ready for their MD.

“I've never been so proud to be going into a health care profession and to feel like what I was learning was really going to allow me to help in a situation where everyone really kind of felt like we didn't know what was going on,” said Lutnick.

They are thankful for the support they have and the teachers who got them here.

“It's just it's so gratifying to see them and so happy,” said Lesse. “I hope all of them have as much fun as I've had.”

Because these are the doctors of tomorrow and they’re ready to take on the world.

“I would do it over in a heartbeat,” said Lutnick.

“You work this hard not to be mediocre. You work this hard to be the best,” added Mate-Kole.

On top of adding telemedicine to some classes, the Jacobs School of Medicine is also making other changes.

That includes pre-loading some of the information students will learn and emphasizing ways to filter out the misinformation from what’s available online.