ENMED’s inaugural class student Zachary Richards has found his niche in the medical field as he prepares to begin his ophthalmology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Richards credits the ENMED program with helping him be a standout candidate for his chosen field.
Growing up in Cedar Park, TX, Richards discovered his love of engineering while in high school. He went on to Texas A&M University on a full scholarship. While he enjoyed the curriculum, he found that the industry jobs were more regulatory than design-focused, which was his passion.
Richards became interested in ophthalmology after early exposure to the field during his shadowing experience. When ENMED launched, Richards saw it as a fantastic opportunity to pursue his vision.
“I imagined the idea of combining my aspirations of becoming a physician with my passion for medical device design,” said Richards. ”The launch of ENMED presented a fantastic opportunity that perfectly aligned with my vision and mission. Without hesitation, I took the leap of faith by enrolling in the inaugural class, and I am grateful to have witnessed the program’s growth from its inception to its current state.”
Throughout his time at ENMED, Richards recalls his involvement in several device design projects, including an app for finding the correct N95 mask size and redesigning the slit lamp microscope, a vital diagnostic device in ophthalmology. The capstone program was particularly instrumental in connecting Richards with mentors in the field and helping him build his professional identity.
Richards’ experience in the ENMED program gave him a compelling story to tell during his residency interviews.
“As I prepared for residency applications,” said Richards, “I realized that my identity had become synonymous with ENMED. I leveraged the program’s opportunities to present myself as a compelling candidate for residency, and the interview season went well. I ultimately hit the interview cap for ophthalmology of 15 and had a successful cycle.”
The early match process for ophthalmology begins in July, which primarily centers around academic and medical school performance, board scores, research experience, leadership, and service.
For future ENMED students, Richards advises leaning into the program’s identity and creating a personal brand that makes them stand out as a candidate. While academic performance and research experience are essential, it’s equally important to demonstrate leadership skills and service, which help paint a more complete picture of who you are as a candidate.
“In the end, I matched with the University of Iowa,” said Richards, “One of the leading programs in ophthalmology. I am excited to continue my journey in ophthalmology and grateful for the opportunities that ENMED provided me.”