Anticipation. Uncertainty. Excitement. Nerves.
Match Day, the day when thousands of medical students across the country find out where they will go for their residency training programs once they become newly minted doctors, represents the culmination of years of work. This year, Match Day was Friday, March 18.
At Washington University School of Medicine, students — some apprehensive, some eager — entered the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical Campus shortly before the event began. Some mingled with friends and family while others sat immediately, hunkering down for the nerve-wracking news they and their classmates came to learn.
“First, I was 80 percent excited, 20 percent nervous, but now it’s flipped the other way,” said Andrew Groves. He hoped the match would return him to the East Coast, where his family lives.
Lisa Ma empathized with Groves. “I wasn’t anxious before this because I knew I matched somewhere, but as I was walking over, my heartbeat was racing and I was breathing very quickly. All this nervous energy in anticipation of finding out where I’m going next year.”
Bayan Jalalizadeh, who appeared calm, reflected on the day’s meaning for him. “It’s kind of the first day of the next step for me. I actually went to undergrad at WashU and then to medical school here, so this hasn’t been just four years of this chapter of my life, but eight years. I’m really looking forward to finding out where I’m going to be. I’ve applied everywhere across the country, and this is the celebration of all my hard work.”
Jalalizadeh pointed out that Match Day was taking place in the same room where he received his white coat during the annual White Coat ceremony for first-year medical students. “It’s actually a really nice return to the beginning,” he said.
During the Match Day event, Kathryn Diemer, MD, assistant dean for career counseling and an associate professor of medicine, approached the podium and introduced class president Andy Mohapatra.
“You’re all amazing people who will make great physicians,” he assured his classmates. Then he opened the first envelope — his. “I’m at the University of Pittsburgh for urology!” he announced.
The crowd cheered, and one by one, students came forward to receive their envelopes from Diemer. Music selected by the students accompanied them as they approached the microphone to share their news with the packed auditorium and those watching via live stream. Some songs emphasized the day’s excitement, including Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling,” while others paid homage to movies and TV shows, such as “The Imperial March” (Darth Vader’s Theme) from “Star Wars” and theme songs to “Jurassic Park” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Groves, the nervous, excited flip-flopper, got his wish to return home and matched in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Now the responsibilities ramp up,” he said. “So that’s kind of nerve-wracking and exciting.”
After the ceremony, Ma’s anxiety had melted away. “I’m very relieved and excited and glad it’s all over.” Like Groves, she will return to the East Coast, near her family, as an anesthesiology resident at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Jalalizadeh, who matched in psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, appreciated the nostalgia Match Day evoked. “It’s a really beautiful time,” he said. “It was really wonderful to see how people have evolved – seeing their pictures, seeing what they look like now, who they’re with, and the families they have and the loved ones who came to watch them.”
Of the School of Medicine students who participated in the match process, 29 will complete some or all of their residency training at Washington University-affiliated programs, including Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals.
The most popular specialties were internal medicine, orthopedic surgery and pediatrics. Outside of Missouri, Massachusetts was a popular destination, with seven students going to Boston Children’s, Massachusetts General, or Brigham and Women’s hospitals.