Medical school celebrates first Match Day

The first graduating class of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine marked its first Match Day on March 15 — and set an incredible precedent for the classes to follow.

One of the dramatic highlights of medical school, Match Day is an annual event held simultaneously at medical schools across the country. During the event, the students — as well as their loved ones – learn where they will be spending the next few years in residency as they open an envelope and read the results in front of a crowd.

All 33 FIU students matched to one of their chosen residencies — the national rate is 93 percent. “I have been involved in Match Day since 1999, and I’d never batted a 1,000 until this year,” exclaimed Associate Dean for Student Affairs Robert Hernandez.

“We never had any doubt that these were the right people,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg. “They are going to send a message that this medical school counted.”

Hernandez began the event by placing money in the “Match Day Fund” that would eventually go to the last student called up to read their envelopes. Rosenberg and COM Dean John Rock also pitched in to the money collected in the onstage basket.

The first student called up was Miguel Flores, who will be doing a year in preliminary medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami before heading off to Orlando to train in diagnostic radiology. Trine Engebretsten, Florida’s first liver transplant recipient, and her husband, another liver transplant, came to the stage with their toddler son to read their envelope. She broke down in tears as she learned she would be going to Medical Center of Central Georgia in their general surgery program. Engebretsten hopes to become a transplant surgeon herself.

Many of the students became emotional as they opened their envelopes. Kaming Wu, who was born in Shanghai, China and moved to the United States when he was three, will be going to Boston for a radiology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “I am so grateful for the opportunities that this school has given me,” said a clearly thrilled Wu.

More than half of this year’s graduates will be going into primary care and 12 students will be staying in Florida for their residencies.

Others, like Daniel Castellanos, know they’ll return when they have finished their training. Castellanos matched to a pediatrics residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The last person called, Castellanos was so excited that he ran off the stage without taking his basket full of money. “I was sweating the whole time!” he laughed. Carrying a flag of the state of California, Castellanos said he couldn’t be happier to have matched at one of the country’s foremost children’s hospitals. “But I’ll be back. Miami is my home,” he noted.