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Match Day

Salvatore Capotosto hugs his wife Federica Bove at Stony Brook Medicine Match Day 2024. Kristy Leibowitz


By Daniel Dunaief

A former professional soccer player from Italy, Salvatore Capotosto recently experienced a different kind of pressure, this time in front of his wife and her parents.

Joining the rest of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University class of 2024, Capotosto awaited the countdown for Match Day to learn where he would serve his residency. 

Capotosto, who already knew he’d matched with one of the hospitals on his list for an orthopedic surgery residency, opened the same kind of envelopes medical students around the country were opening at noon Eastern Standard Time.

After the countdown, Capotosto learned he matched with his first choice, Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“It’s a very great dream for us,” said Capotosto, referring both to the opportunity for him and his wife Federica Bove to live in the city and to the excitement his extended family in the small town of Itri felt. Reading where he was going was “an explosion of emotion.”

Capotosto and Bove shed tears of happiness as they pondered the next step in an American journey that began eight years ago when they started college at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. While Capotosto received medical training at Stony Brook, Bove earned her Master of Business Administration at Pace University.

The first member of his family to become a physician,  Capotosto said he spent considerable time explaining the lengthy residency and matching process to his family.

“It doesn’t matter how many millions of times” he shared the medical steps with them, he said, “they will still ask” about the next steps.

Humble origins

The son of cafe owner Luigi, the future orthopedic surgery resident didn’t always set his sights on either a high-powered athletic career or on becoming an American doctor.

“I used to walk to school and stop at my dad’s cafe and eat a croissant and drink cappuccino for breakfast and I would scream that I didn’t want to go to school and that I wanted to work at the cafe,”  Capotosto said. His father kicked him out of the cafe and told him to “go study.”

The Capotosto son said he learned his work ethic from his extended family, for whom work is a responsibility and a passion. Watching his father put time and effort into his work helped him put in 100 or more hours some weeks to meeting his responsibilities and mastering medical material.

Capotosto hasn’t been able to convince his father visit him in New York since he arrived on campus. This year, however, his parents booked a trip to see their son graduate.

Packages from home supported him through school and helped reduce the distance from his close family, who sent olives and olive oil every few months that were made from the 200 olive trees on his grandfather Pietro Mancini’s property.

A rising soccer star

Capotosto developed a passion for soccer when he first started playing the game at the age of six. He poured considerable energy into developing as a goalie.

He achieved considerable success, playing in front of crowds of over 4,000 people for professional and semi professional teams. In Naples, he trained with his idol, goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.

Capotosto was in the academy of the professional Napoli team for four years, including training with the first team.

When he played soccer, Capotosto suggested he was a “perfectionist,” honing his technique through hard work and preparation.

During his playing days, Capotosto sustained several injuries that took him off the field, including a scaphoid bone injury that ended his career.

Unsure of the next steps in his life, Capotosto appreciated not only the help and support of the doctors who came to his aid on the field, but also the career inspiration.

“I like to say that orthopedics saved my life,” Capotosto said. “Without the flame to push me to stand up and find a new purpose, I would have taken wrong turns in those dark moments. I’m really grateful to this field.”

Some of Capotosto’s mentors at Stony Brook, in turn, appreciate the considerable positive energy the former goalie brings to medicine and the way he relates to everyone from hospital staff to patients.

“He’s immediately disarming,” said Dr. James Penna, orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “Even patients who are scared or who are dealing with pain” relax when they are around him.

Dr. Edward Wang, Chief of Shoulder/Elbow Surgery and Clinical Professor in the Department of Orthopedics at the Renaissance School of Medicine, recalled that he offered Capotosto the opportunity to shadow him in the operating room early in his medical school career.

Capotosto picked up the do’s and don’ts of the operating room quickly, while the members of the team recognized his dedication and commitment.

“The staff took a real liking to him immediately,” Dr. Wang said. “Orthopedics is lucky he chose” the field.

In the last few months, Capotosto, who is 29 years old, has reached several milestones. He and Bove received green cards in February, which allow them to live and work permanently in the United States. The couple, who met when Capotosto was 18, also got married on April 22 in Central Park. They are planning a religious ceremony in Italy in May at Bove’s childhood church.

Sports and medicine

The field of orthopedics has attracted athletes from numerous sports, as former competitors have turned their focus and dedication towards preparing for games to the challenging world of helping people recover from injuries.

“A large percentage of applicants have some sorts of sports background,” with numerous doctors sharing stories about injuries such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament or about a relative who received knee replacement surgery, said Dr. Penna, who was not a college athlete.

“We have a lot of former athletes in our program,” added Dr. Wang, who swam competitively in a Division 1 program at the University of Miami. “Athletes like orthopedics because of the physicality and definitive nature and the exposure in the past.”

While Dr. Wang suggested that a range of character-defining elements helped shape Capotosto, he added that the former soccer star’s injuries enhanced his ability to connect.

“Being on the other side [as a patient] gives you empathy,” said Dr. Wang.

While Capotosto enjoyed his time in soccer, he is pleased with the current chapter in his life.

“Playing was a great opportunity, but, I think being an orthopedic surgeon is way better from my standpoint right now,” he said. “I believe in the mission.”

The Stony Brook medical staff, meanwhile, believes in him. 

“There will be a lot of disappointed attendees” when Capotosto leaves the school, said Dr. Penna. “The janitors knew who he was.”

As the U.S. faces challenges with health care delivery systems and shortages of physicians will likely continue in the future, the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University continues to produce new crops of physicians for the workforce each year. This year at its annual Match Day, 121 graduating students matched to residency programs around the country, from New York State to 19 other states and Washington, DC. More than one-quarter of these students (26%) matched to residency programs at Stony Brook Medicine.

Match Days are held nationwide each year, a celebratory event when students learn of their residency training assignments. Administered by the National Resident Matching Program, this year more than 40,000 positions were filled — a record for the NRMP’s 70-year history.

“Congratulations to all of you, and remember that things are going to work out regardless of where you have matched to,” said Dr. Peter Igarashi, dean of the RSOM, who waved his own residency notice letter that he received years ago from his Match Day, one which revealed a choice that he did not expect and was not his first choice. “You have accomplished this at a time when a worldwide pandemic was at the center of your medical school training, an impressive feat.”

A majority of the matching students will stay in New York State for their residency training — 59%. Of that portion, 55% will be employed on Long Island, and 45% at Stony Brook Medicine.

The top residency training programs matched to included Anesthesiology (21), Internal Medicine (16), Psychiatry (12), and Emergency Medicine (11). A solid portion of the students (21%) matched to primary care specialties, such as Medicine and Pediatrics. This is an important portion entering primary care fields, as the country faces primary care shortages ranging from 21,000 to 55,000 practitioners over the next decade, according to an Association of American Medical Colleges 2021 report.

In addition to students matching at Stony Brook and other hospitals across New York State such as Montefiore Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering and University of Rochester, they also matched to residencies at nationally recognized institutions such as Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.

131 RSOM students match to residency programs; 20 percent to stay at Stony Brook Medicine

Taking a major step toward launching their careers, 131 Renaissance School of Medicine (RSOM) fourth-year students matched to residency training programs all over the country, New York State and at Stony Brook Medicine on March 18. Twenty percent of the students matched to training programs at Stony Brook, the highest percentage staying at Stony Brook since 2010 when the school began tracking this metric annually.

Match Days are held nationwide each year, a celebratory event when students learn of their residency training assignments. Administered by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), this year more than 39,000 positions were filled. See this NRMP news. The numbers of physicians continue to increase, in part because of a need for our nation’s growing population and increasing need for specialty services in medicine. The two-year international pandemic has also raised awareness of the importance of a strong physician pool going forward in the 21st Century.

“The role of the physician has never been more important,” said Hal Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at  Stony Brook University, in a video message to the matching students. “You will soon be joining a network of over 4.500 physician alumni. The Renaissance School of Medicine gave you an opportunity to become a physician, but you did the hard work to fulfill your dreams.”

Collectively the students matched to programs in 18 states and Washington, DC. Approximately 43 percent of the students matched to programs in NYS, and 56 percent to programs in other states. The leading programs matched to included Internal Medicine (21 students), Emergency Medicine (15), Anesthesiology (12), and Pediatrics (11).

To view the celebration and some students’ matches see this video.

“You all stand on the threshold of your medical careers, a threshold can be the entrance to a new place, or it can be the beginning of some new chapter in our lives, or it can be the limit of a prior condition. For you it is all those things,” said William Wertheim, MD, Interim Dean of the RSOM.

Considering these challenging times in our society and in healthcare, Dr. Wertheim continued:  “COVID has become, during your student years, a fact of life. Though it has posed disruptions for you all, it has also created opportunities  — for you to witness the advances of science and how each of these advances is incorporated into practice, for the rapidity with which recognition of new conditions and new challenges are adopted into medical care. These are all good lessons to learn.”

Among the students matching include native Long Islanders Kristin Krumenacker and Justin Cheung. Krumenacker, a dual-degree student who will also earn a Master of Arts in Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics in May, matched to a Radiology residency at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems. Cheung, who earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Stony Brook University as an undergraduate, hopes to pursue a fellowship in hematology/oncology. He is one of four fourth-year students completing the BS to MD program at Stony Brook. Cheung matched to an Internal Medicine program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Another student completing the BS to MD program at Stony Brook, Verdah Ahmad, matched to Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. A native of New Jersey, Ahmad was hoping to match to a school in the New York metro area. She is very happy to match to a program in her home state.