Students at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School find out where they will complete their training
Ryan Mahoney questioned whether he would be able to continue in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor after COVID-19 claimed the life of his role model, hero and mentor early in the pandemic.
Mahoney’s father delayed retirement in the spring of 2020 to take care of patients battling the virus at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn – one of the hardest-hit areas in the Northeast at the beginning of the pandemic.
But when James “Charlie” Mahoney died at 62, long before vaccines were available, his son didn’t know if he would be able to stay on track and become a doctor like his father.
“I thought about taking a break, taking some time off,” said Mahoney, who will graduate with honors in May from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS). “But I knew deep down that my dad wouldn’t want me to take a break. He would want me to keep going and finish. He’d tell me I’d be okay.”
Mahoney was among thousands of medical students throughout the country, at NJMS in Newark and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) in New Brunswick, who participated in Match Day events, the annual ritual when medical students across the country simultaneously open envelopes telling them which residency program they applied to accepted them.
The group of Rutgers medical school students also included Shane Neibart and Marlena Sabatino from RWJMS, both Chancellors Global Health Scholars who received four-year merit scholarships and are committed to global health equity. On May 1, the couple will celebrate another milestone in their lives when they get married.
At RWJMS, 95 percent of students who participated matched to a program of their choice compared to 92.9 percent of medical students throughout the country. Twenty-five RWJMS students will stay in New Jersey to do their residencies at either NJMS or RWJMS.
This year marked the first in-person Match Day since 2019.
“We remain very excited for our graduating students and their loved ones," said Robert L. Johnson, dean of New Jersey Medical School and interim dean, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "Our medical students always achieve high marks in the Match!”
Neibart and Sabatino, who met at RWJMS, became friends and fell in love, were selected for a residency couples match to simultaneously pursue their medical careers and their relationship in the same geographic area.
The couple will be headed to Boston where they will be part of Harvard programs. Sabatino will enter the general surgery residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Neibart will start an internship year in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed by a residency in radiation oncology.
They have both done research to examine disparities in health care treatment and outcomes. Neibart, whose research focused on Belize, wants to become a radiation oncologist. Sabatino, who focused her research on Colombia, plans to become a cardiac surgeon.
Neibart, who grew up in Morristown and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University, is also following in the footsteps of his father, who was an oncologist.
“I learned from my father how people are affected by cancer and how much they need your help,” said Neibart, who spent part of the time in medical school as a tutor to undergraduates, medical students and those studying to be physician assistants. “Education is a central part of being a doctor, and helping others achieve their dream of caring for patients, has been incredibly gratifying.”
Sabatino, a recipient of the Gold Humanism Award for her leadership, compassion and dedication, grew up in Hillsborough, received her undergraduate degree from Harvard where she was the captain of the varsity track and field team. While at RWJMS, she coached pole vault at Rutgers and taught young medical students at the student-run, free urgent care facility for the uninsured and underserved.
Both she and Neibart are passionate about providing quality care that people can afford.
“We both think a lot about the barriers in the health care system and how we can make health care more equitable,” said Sabatino. “We are pursuing different fields of medicine, but Shane and I both hope to improve population access to health services – be it radiation therapy or heart surgery.''
Mahoney, also a recipient of the Gold Humanism Award, attended the Match Day ceremony at NJMS with his family where he learned that he would begin his three-year internal medicine residency at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan.
“It was my dream to go to Columbia," Mahoney said. “I’ll be able to train in one of the top hospitals in the country. On top of that, I get to stay home and be close to my friends and family."
After completing his residency, Mahoney plans on doing a specialty in cardiology, something he had talked at length about with his father, a pulmonologist and critical care physician for 40 years.
Originally from Long Island, Mahoney hopes to practice in a minority community and says working at University Hospital in Newark made him feel like he was making a difference.
“I think being a Black man may be a heavy load to carry,” said Mahoney, who received his undergraduate degree from Fordham University and has been inducted into some of the most prestigious medical honor societies in the country and recognized as a top scholar. “But on an individual basis we can make such a difference doing things the right way by listening and caring about a person’s welfare.”