Years of anticipation erupted in a flurry of torn envelopes on March 17 as fourth-year Feinberg medical students found out about their residency matches at this year’s Match Day celebration.
“Honestly, it’s kind of surreal. It’s such an incredible moment that is the culmination of what we’ve been working towards,” said Precious Akanyirige, who matched into anesthesiology at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. “Knowing that we have that next step, that we know where we’re going to start our careers as physicians is so exciting. Especially to be able to find that out and have our family, friends and mentors surrounding us is just incredible.”
On Match Day, an annual tradition held on the third Friday of March, all fourth-year medical students across the country simultaneously learn where they will train as residents for the next three to seven years.
This year, Feinberg students and their families attended the Match Day celebration at the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center on Northwestern’s Chicago campus.
“Being able to be involved with students from the start, from the moment they walk in the door here at Feinberg up until the point in time where they are ready to become doctors is extraordinary,” said Susan Goldsmith, MD, ’08 GME, associate dean for Student Affairs and associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We watch them move from individuals who have some sense, perhaps, of what they want to do and the type of physician they want to be, and as they gain the knowledge, skills, behaviors and the focus of what it takes to be a physician, they learn more about themselves. They’re able to make a decision that really resonates with who they are and what they can bring to the table.”
Residency matches are made by the National Resident Matching Program, which utilizes an algorithm to pair graduating medical students with open training positions at teaching hospitals across the U.S. The model considers the top choices of both students and residency programs.
This year’s match class was one of the best yet, said Marianne Green, MD, the Raymond H. Curry, MD, Professor of Medical Education and vice dean for Education, who addressed students and their families before the envelope opening.
“When you think about medicine and how you advance and how you develop your career, so much is about the people,” Green said, addressing the medical students. “You’ve gotten through a lot together and you will continue to rely on each other and reach out to each other in ways you may not expect. I hope you enjoy these last few months of being together and seeing as much of each other as possible. You may count on each other in the future.”
This year’s class saw 158 students match in 21 different ACGME-certified residency specialties, with 67 percent of Feinberg’s matching students heading to programs affiliated with a top 25 U.S. medical school.
“It’s a super exciting day to be around my classmates with everyone going through the same thing,” said Sam Rosenberg, who matched into orthopaedic surgery at the University of Michigan. “Thinking back four years ago, when we were all meeting each other, and now seeing where everyone is splitting off and doing separate things and really becoming themselves is really cool to be able to celebrate that around each other.”
Some of the most popular specialties students matched into included internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and anesthesiology.
Match Day marks the beginning of the end of medical school for students at Feinberg, many of whom will leave Chicago for training across the country.
“It’s an exciting moment,” said Jaafar Zaidi, a fourth-year student who matched into anesthesiology at the University of Washington. “I feel really prepared for residency and the next step in my future.”
Other students will continue their training nearby, including Mia DiCara, who matched into pediatrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
“We’ve done so much, we’ve worked so hard and it’s incredible to be here at this moment and to find our passions and follow that into residency,” said DiCara. “This day means so much to me. I think it really hit me last night that I’ve worked so hard for this, and this is finally the culmination of everything I’ve hoped and dreamed for myself.”
Annika Divakar, who matched into general surgery at Boston Medical Center, said she went into Match Day nervous but ultimately confident, knowing that Feinberg had prepared her to get the best result possible.
“Today is the best day of my life that I can say so far,” Divakar said. “I’m just so excited to be a surgeon in training. This is the end of a journey but also the beginning of a journey as well.”