Avery Williams outside of the Health Sciences Education Building
Avery Williams outside of the Health Sciences Education Building

Match Day Profile: Avery Williams

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly
Avery Williams outside of the Health Sciences Education Building
Avery Williams outside of the Health Sciences Education Building
From an internship in forensic anthropology to teaching biology, Williams discovered a passion for medicine

Every third Friday in March, fourth-year medical students across the United States learn where the next chapter in their careers will be written. Match Day is the day when the National Resident Matching Program releases results to applicants in sealed envelopes, revealing where they will spend the next several years in residency, training in their chosen specialty. After years of preparation and study, it is a long-awaited and well-deserved day to celebrate. The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix is profiling several students for Match Day 2024.

Meet Avery Williams

Growing up in Northwest Glendale, raising pigs and traveling around the state as a rodeo queen, Avery Williams did not initially picture herself becoming a physician. Her love for animals and science made a future career as a veterinarian seem like a natural fit.

Williams with her husband, David
Williams with her husband, David
That all changed when she began attending Arizona State University (ASU). A first-generation college graduate, Williams’ love of science led her to discover the field of forensic anthropology. She double majored in biochemistry and anthropology, and her love for the latter led her to a three-year internship with the forensic anthropologist at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.

It was a formative experience, one she enjoyed and even considered pursuing as a career. But Williams’ story was not quite written yet. After graduating from ASU, she would teach ninth grade biology for two years at her high school alma mater, Arizona School for the Arts. She met her husband — David, the ninth grade math teacher — during that time.

She also learned, that as rewarding as teaching was, she wanted to do more. This led Williams to the Modern Human Anatomy master’s program at the University of Colorado, Anschutz. Her master’s studies were instructive. They helped her love for all things anatomy to blossom, and she also found the confidence in herself to pursue a career in medicine.

Throughout this journey, Williams credits her family members, both locally and from afar, for encouraging her. They have all been so proud, understanding and supportive. This includes her husband David, who Williams credits as her biggest cheerleader and rock. He kept her upbeat and motivated through it all.

Lastly, Williams appreciates the friends she made along the way, who have been a great source of support through medical school. As they undertook their studies together, they formed a tightknit bond that will last a lifetime.

Path Toward Medicine

What was the spark that led you to become a physician?

I had a unique path to medicine. No one in my family was in the health care field, so it took a while for me to find it and then a little longer to develop the confidence that I could succeed. Even though it took me extra time, I feel like all of my experiences led me to exactly where I need to be, and I would not change a thing.

Ultimately, the final spark came in graduate school at the Modern Human Anatomy Master’s Program. I found myself excelling in the coursework — coursework that medical students were also taking — and that was the final boost to my confidence. I proved to myself that I was capable of studying medicine.

Choosing a Specialty

Do you have a specialty? What is it and why did it interest you, or what led you to it?

I applied to interventional radiology (IR)! I’ve always liked honing my pattern recognition skills and finding the needle in the haystack, so radiology was appealing to me from the beginning. I was fortunate to attend the College of Medicine – Phoenix Medical Student Radiology Symposium during my MS1 year. That helped dispel some misconceptions about the field — that radiology isn’t just sitting in a dark room all day and there are options for direct interactions with patients and performing procedures.

On my third-year radiology elective at the Phoenix VA, I got to work with IR a lot, and I was hooked. Overall, I love the field of radiology because it uses various skills I learned from my unique path to medicine — communication skills as a teacher, an eye for detail from forensic anthropology and, not to mention, my undying love for anatomy. All of that plus the direct patient interaction and numerous procedures made IR stand out as my dream field, and I am so excited to begin training soon!

What’s Next

Post-Match Day, what are your goals moving forward?

Honestly, the main goal has been to match and graduate, so I haven’t spent too much time thinking far past that. Based on my background as a teacher, I imagine I might stay at an academic institution to continue working with students and residents and having a lot of support (not to mention all of the cool cases I’ll get to see); but I also like to keep my options open. I trust that my experiences during residency will shape my trajectory as far as where I am working and what sort of attending I will be. 

The College of Medicine – Phoenix Culture

What will you miss most about the College of Medicine – Phoenix? Any advice for incoming medical students?

Williams appreciates all the amazing friends she made during medical school
Williams appreciates all the amazing friends she made during medical school
I really am going to miss the people. I have made incredible, lifelong friends here, and it’s going to be really hard for all of us to be spread out across the country for our residencies. Additionally, there are staff and faculty here at the College of Medicine – Phoenix that I’ve gotten really close to, and I am going to miss running into them on campus.

My advice to incoming medical students is to soak it all in. Be as active as you can with the community to get the most out of your experience. The four years seem long, but they go by fast.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.