UCI medical students open letters, learn their residency fates in Match Day ceremony

Megan Keys celebrates with husband R.C. Wright.
Megan Keys celebrates with husband R.C. Wright after finding out she’ll be going to UC San Diego to study emergency medicine.
(Steve Zylius / UCI)

The UC Irvine campus played host to a celebration Friday, as medical students on the brink of earning doctor of medicine degrees opened envelopes and, in doing so, learned where their career paths would take them after graduation.

Match Day, recognized on medical school campuses across the nation, is the day fourth-year students who have otherwise completed the on-campus portion of their learning discover which residency program they will attend for the next three to seven years training in the specialties of their choice.

Friday’s event, held in front of the campus’ medical education building, was a scene of nervous anticipation as 100 students enrolled in UCI’s School of Medicine learned their respective fates.

Students Anvesh Macherla, Will Jones (hidden), Austin Davis, and Himakar Nagam with Jaspal Bassi on UCI's Match Day Friday.
Students Anvesh Macherla, Will Jones (hidden), Austin Davis, and Himakar Nagam congratulate Jaspal Bassi, left, after he found out he’ll be doing his residency in anesthesiology at UCLA.
(Steve Zylius / UCI)

“Match Day is one of my favorite days of the year, and, of course, for you students it’s going to be one of your most memorable,” Dr. Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, the school’s dean of medical education, said at the livestreamed event. “It’s going to stick with you for the rest of your life.”

Although students spend months researching programs at hospitals across the country and may send out hundreds of applications, interviewing with 20 or more institutions before making a list of top picks, it all comes down to the letter inside the envelope.

Since 1952, residency selections have been determined by the National Residency Matching Program, a private nonprofit organization clearinghouse that uses a mathematical algorithm to pair applicants and programs, based on rank-order preference lists.

Once a selection has been made, students are essentially obligated to attend that program, so filling out ranking lists can be an arduous experience, according to Megan Osborn, associate dean for students at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

UCI medical student Hinesh Patel gets a hug from wife Emma Bindloss.
UCI medical student Hinesh Patel gets a hug Friday from wife Emma Bindloss after learning he’ll go to Stanford for his residency in radiology and nuclear medicine.
(Steve Zylius / UCI)

“It’s very nerve-racking — students are really on edge when their match lists are due,” Osborn said Friday after the ceremony. “Still, I would say the vast majority of people are very excited [on Match Day], because most people get one of their top three, statistically, and many get their first choice.”

Some students Friday opted to open their envelopes immediately, either keeping the news to themselves or placing them into a basket, so they could announce it to the crowd. Others prolonged the anticipation by placing their still-unopened envelopes into a second basket, choosing to learn their fate on stage.

UCI School of Medicine Dean Dr. Michael J. Stamos told the crowd the occasion would be one of the most important days of their professional lives to date.

“For our students, Match Day marks a culmination of hard work,dedication and a well-deserved recognition of their talents,” he said. “It is important, and it’s a great day.”

Medical student Aileen Guillen celebrates in a Match Day ceremony at UC Irvine.
Aileen Guillen celebrates Friday in a Match Day ceremony at UC Irvine, where she learned she’ll be doing a residency in rmergency medicine at Harbor UCLA.
(Steve Zylius / UCI)

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