Wide smiles, victory dances, air kisses at Match Day
Physicians-to-be learn their destinations for residency training
Revelry mixed with reverence Friday, March 17, as 105 doctors in training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis celebrated Match Day, an annual ritual in which graduating medical students learn where they will train as medical residents.
The festivities entailed students opening envelopes unveiling their matches and announcing them to the class during a ceremony at the Eric P. Newman Education Center (EPNEC). However, some students chose to celebrate their matches in private or with loved ones in more intimate settings.
At the WashU event, many students reacted with victory dances, wide smiles or tearful words of thanks. Others responded more pensively, sharing long hugs with loved ones, silently weeping with joy, or offering air kisses to family and friends watching on livestream from across the globe.
EPNEC’s auditorium resembled pre-pandemic times with the students’ spouses, partners and children cheering and clapping alongside moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends and mentors. WashU’s proud deans, faculty and staff also shared in the happiness.
“The graduating Class of 2023 deserves particular praise for their positivity and resiliency,” said Kathryn M. Diemer, MD, the School of Medicine’s assistant dean for career counseling and a professor of medicine who has overseen Match Day for 23 years. “They have navigated a dynamic world, having begun medical school during the onset of COVID-19. They persevered and adapted amid changing protocols in classrooms, labs and clinical areas. Activities such as applying for residencies were disrupted. Many interviewed virtually, applying in cities and states they’ve never visited. Our students did it all with professionalism and grace.”
“Seeing firsthand the detrimental impact that COVID-19 had on communities, particularly the underserved, reinvigorated my passion for serving those at the highest risk of medical inequities.”
— Patrick England, MD Class of 2023
Shortly after the pandemic hit, many students mobilized to help health-care workers and the community. “I wanted to directly help on the front lines, but I couldn’t as a medical student,” said Cyrus Ghaznavi, who matched into internal medicine at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he plans to specialize in infectious diseases. “Physicians, including our WashU mentors and teachers, were working around the clock at incredibly high intensity and in uncertain conditions. My classmates and I wanted to help, so we tried to lessen their responsibilities in other ways.”
Along with two students, Ghaznavi initiated the Washington University Medical Student COVID-19 Response, which ultimately recruited more than 200 students who collectively volunteered more than 10,000 hours. Among their efforts, students created personal protective equipment and provided child care for front-line workers. They delivered meals to vulnerable populations during lockdown, assisted local health agencies with contact tracing, and raised public awareness about COVID-19 safety measures. Many also helped with vaccine outreach and administration.
“Seeing firsthand the detrimental impact that COVID-19 had on communities, particularly the underserved, reinvigorated my passion for serving those at the highest risk of medical inequities,” added Patrick England, who matched into orthopedic surgery at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Chicago. “As a class, our efforts to help during the pandemic made us more resilient, collaborative and empathetic.”
Additionally, the graduating Class of 2023 represents the last group of students who trained under the Legacy Curriculum. Starting in the fall, the medical school will transition fully to the Gateway Curriculum, a program of study that emphasizes health equity, mentoring, professional development, increased clinical immersions and other features backed by academic research on teaching and learning.
“I am honored to be part of the last class to participate in the Legacy Curriculum, which has educated decades of physicians and scientists, including my mentors, who are leaders in their fields and known around the world,” said Carter Scott, who matched into obstetrics-gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “I hope our careers and future successes will do it justice.”
The Legacy Curriculum, coupled with the pandemic, strengthened many students’ commitment to the medical field. “Our experiences spotlighted the importance of evolving to meet the needs of our patients,” said Jennifer J. Lee, the fourth-year class president who matched into pediatrics at the combined Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston Medical Center program, affiliates of Harvard University and Boston University, respectively. “For myself and many of my classmates, the pandemic reinforced our desire to pursue medicine and, more importantly, advance health equity.”
Among the university’s other multitalented medical students, many will stay in St. Louis for residencies at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. Others matched at hospitals throughout the United States, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other hospitals affiliated with Harvard University; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and in Phoenix; UCSF, Medical Center; UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles; Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.; Brown University Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I.; Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; New York-Presbyterian Hospital, affiliated with Columbia University; New York University Grossman School of Medicine; Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.; and hospitals affiliated with Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., among many others.
Highlights involving this year’s soon-to-graduate class:
- Of the 105 medical students, 32 will train at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and three at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
- Besides Missouri, the most popular states where School of Medicine students will train include California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio and Washington. Altogether, this year’s class will be represented at hospitals in 22 states.
- The most popular practice for residency training is surgical specialties, with 27 students. Eight will train in orthopedic surgery, five in general surgery, four in plastic surgery, three each in neurosurgery and otolaryngology, two in urology, and one each in thoracic and vascular.
- With 25 students, internal medicine is the next popular specialty, followed by 11 students in psychiatry, eight in obstetrics-gynecology, and seven in pediatrics.
- Overall, the National Resident Matching Program recorded the largest match ever, with 42,952 active applicants and 40,375 certified positions. Since 1952, the National Resident Matching Program has acted as a clearinghouse to fill positions at U.S. teaching hospitals, pairing the preferences of graduating medical students with those of residency program directors. Based on ranked lists provided by both groups, a match is generated by a computerized mathematical algorithm.
Photos by Matt Miller. Click to enlarge.