Cheers, joyful tears at Match Day

During the first year of medical school, many students already have fast-forwarded four years and marked in their calendars the third Friday in March, better known as Match Day. Some physicians-to-be call it the most important moment of medical school because it’s when they learn where they will train as medical residents after graduation.

The long-awaited moment arrived with flourish Friday, March 16, for thousands of medical students nationwide, including 119 doctors-in-training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Many cheered, clapped and cried happy tears. Others high-fived and performed impromptu victory dances. Nearly all hugged family, friends or mentors.

Mark Hallett“Match Day is their moment in the spotlight after years of hard work and commitment,” said Kathryn Diemer, MD, assistant dean for career counseling and an associate professor of medicine. She has been in charge of Match Day at Washington University since 2000.

“For me, it’s emotional and momentous to celebrate the successes of our students,” Diemer said. “They excel because of their academic achievements, research, leadership and commitment to patient care and the community. My job is a joy. I am introducing residency programs to the next superstars of medicine.”

Medical schools across the country celebrate Match Day differently. Some have students simultaneously open envelopes that divulge the names of the institutions where they will begin residency training in July. Others host formal brunches or informal gatherings at restaurants.

At Washington University, a big screen behind the auditorium stage in the Eric P. Newman Education Center recalls each student’s ambitions as first-year students and juxtaposes that past with the future. Students individually walk — or dance —across the stage to theme songs each chooses. Each then reads out loud his or her match.

Among Washington University’s 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 and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston; Yale New Haven Hospital; UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco; UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles; Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, Cleveland Clinic; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; New York Presbyterian Hospital; and hospitals affiliated with Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and New York University.

Highlights of Washington University’s Match Day included:

  • Of the 119 medical students, 44 will train at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and four at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
  • Besides Missouri, the most popular states School of Medicine students will train in include Massachusetts, New York, California and Texas. Altogether, this year’s class will be represented at hospitals in 21 states.
  • The largest group of students — 31 — will train in internal medicine, followed by 13 in diagnostic radiology.
  • Overall, the National Resident Matching Program recorded the largest match ever, with 43,909 applicants registered and 33,167 positions offered.

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