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Celebrating the Class of 2024 — & a Decade of Dell Med

May 3, 2024

A collage of different photos that feature four students from Dell Med's Class of 2024. Across the collage, the students wear graduation regalia and their medical white coats.

Ask any graduating Dell Med student what’s driving their career plans, and you’ll hear about their future patients. Operating from bedsides to the lab bench and beyond, each of these emerging physician leaders is focused on improving lives, whether through enhancing care or expanding access and affordability.

More than a third of Dell Med’s Class of 2024 — its fifth graduating class, completing M.D. studies as the school celebrates its 10th year — will train in primary care at a time when an estimated 83 million people nationwide live in an area without sufficient access to primary care physicians. A quarter of the graduates will remain at Dell Med to train.

“The Class of 2024 is extraordinarily accomplished in not only their academic work, but they set the standard for excellence, innovation and compassion in health care that others should aspire to achieve,” says Dean Claudia Lucchinetti, M.D., who began her tenure when most of the graduates were in their third year of study — a time of exploration and growth unique to the Dell Med curriculum. “As we celebrate Dell Med’s first decade of accomplishments, students like these exemplify the physician leaders who will transform the future of health for the benefit of patients, their families and our communities.”

Meet four members of the Class of 2024 now.

Nikita Choudhary, M.D.

Hometown: Plano, Texas
Match result: Neurological Surgery, UC San Diego Medical Center

You’ll start training as a neurosurgeon in just a few short months. What part of medical school best prepared you for your next step?

I spent my Growth Year working with a mentor at the University of California, San Francisco, on research characterizing the glioblastoma tumor microenvironment. My main distinction project was trying to understand what factors and metabolic changes make this tumor so invasive (and thus devastating to patients).

I’ve found research to be a fascinating and necessary component of medicine, and through the work I did in my research distinction, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to that progress myself. I have also gained experience that I will continue to use as a physician working to help not only my own patients, but also to identify and answer questions that will help others like them.

What is your motto? 

A traditional teaching in Sanskrit my parents taught me growing up, which loosely translates to “you have a right to action, but not to be attached to the fruits of your efforts.” I think about this a lot in both my personal and professional life — to focus on doing the right thing regardless of an uncertain outcome.

Four Years, Two Degrees

Pursuing Unique Paths in Medical School

During their third year at Dell Med — known as the Growth Year — students may choose to earn a master’s degree from one of eight options or pursue independent projects through a distinction program.

This year, 83% of the graduating class pursued a dual degree alongside their M.D.

A collage of two portraits of Erin Cover. In one photo, she wears graduation regalia; in the other, she wears a medical white coat.

Erin Kovar, M.D.

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Match result: Pediatrics, Dell Medical School

What medical school memory will you carry with you in your career?

I returned to my clinical rotations four months after my daughter was born, and one of my first rotations back was pediatrics. While working the inpatient service, one of my patients was nearly the exact age of my daughter at the time. I instantly connected with the patient’s mother (also a first-time mom) as we shared stories and bonded over the common experiences of those early stages of parenthood.

The experience highlighted for me the importance of slowing down and taking the time to connect with patients and their families on a personal and vulnerable level. The human side can so easily get lost in the hustle of medicine, but genuine connection can have a lasting impact that expands far beyond the walls of the hospital. 

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


Providing Essential Access to Care

Addressing the Primary Care Physician Shortage

Eighteen students from the Dell Med Class of 2024 are entering into primary care specialties, which include family medicine, internal medicine, combined internal medicine and pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics.

Collage of two portraits of Cortney Matthews. In one photo, he wears a white medical coat; in the other, he wears graduation regalia.

Cortney Matthews, M.D.

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Match result: Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Cincinnati Medical Center

What’s on your mind as you head into surgical training?

Providing the best value for my patients that I can. During my third year, I worked with a team of peers and faculty mentors to conduct patient experience group sessions with patients who were in the process of — or who had just received — a knee replacement surgery. Our charge was to learn how that process can be improved.

This allowed me, a budding medical student, to get in front of patients and tie in what I learned in the classroom and on the wards with value-based care principles to work to develop interventions to improve the outcomes that matter to patients.   

What word or phrase do you most overuse?

“You know what’s interesting?”

Honor the Class of ’24 

Cortney Matthews and Joshua Witkop stand together for a portrait outside the Dell Medical School campus. Both are wearing graduation regalia and are doing the Hook 'Em gesture.
Four students from Dell Med's Class of 2024 — each wearing graduation regalia — jump for a celebratory portrait inside the Dell Med campus.
Nikita Choudhary stands behind Erin Kovar, who is holding out her phone for a selfie of the the two of them. Both Nikita and Erin are wearing graduation regalia, and in the background is an art sculpture that resides outside the Dell Med campus.
A collage of two portrait of Joshua Witkop. In one photo, he wears graduation regalia; in the other, he wears a medical white coat.

Joshua Witkop, M.D., MBA

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Match result: Anesthesiology, University of Alabama Medical Center

You also earned an MBA during medical school. Why was pursuing that expertise important to you?

Prior to medical school, I began to hear and read about the economic and financial limitations that both patients and providers face within the health care system.

Coming into Dell Med, I hoped to gain the perspective that would allow me to understand the nuanced reasons why our systems and providers operate the way they do now and thus what can be changed organically to create healthier systems overall. In unity with public policy, compassionate care and scientific innovation, health care economics and business practices are foundational to building truly patient-centered care in the years and decades ahead. I intend to use the foundational knowledge of my M.D./MBA to invest in future work on how the (often bewildering) world of business and finance can be harnessed for the betterment of patients.

Who are your heroes?

My dad, a 20th-century theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the staff at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease. All these people exemplify what it is to do a difficult, sometimes insurmountable job with a grace and gentleness for a greater cause and to walk with dignity and kindness toward those around them while doing it.