Match Day at FIU is a little bit like the Academy Awards and the Florida Lotto wrapped into one.
It starts with a basket full of envelopes that contain the names of 4th year medical students and the residency programs they have “matched” into. These matches are a result of an interview process during which both students and programs rank each other in order of preference; then in a lottery of sorts, a computer algorithm decides who ends up where.
Sometimes it’s easy to tell who got their top choice – like Layla Cavitt. She was so excited, she burst into what can only be described as joyous jumping jacks. Cavitt matched into the Family Medicine residency program at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Held annually on the third Friday in March, this year the National Resident Matching Program announced that “a record-high 35,969 U.S. and international medical school students and graduates vied for 31,757 positions, the most ever offered in the Match.”
Ninety-seven percent of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s graduating class matched. Fifty-seven percent matched into residencies in primary care specialties. Of the 114 students in the class, 37 will continue their training in Florida, half of them in South Florida.
“We are extremely pleased that a majority of our students are pursuing fields in primary care where there is such critical need nationwide, and that many of them have chosen to continue their medical training in Florida because we know that increases the likelihood they will stay and practice here,” said Dr. John A. Rock, founding dean and vice president for health affairs.
One of those students who will be staying close to home and family is Laura Flores who provided one of the day’s most memorable and emotional moments. At first, she couldn’t even bear to read what the envelope had in store for her future. Holding back tears, Flores recalled how her mother, a single parent, had brought her and her siblings from their native Colombia and challenged them to succeed. She has, indeed. In May she will become a physician, and will specialize in obstetrics/gynecology at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
For these students and their families, Match Day is the culmination of years of studies and a lifetime of dreams; you can always count on a high level of emotion. Then there are the little surprises unique to each Match Day—last year we were treated to two marriage proposals, and a student who didn’t show because he had to rush to the hospital where his wife was giving birth to their first child.
This year, we were treated to something you don’t see every day— a matching sisters’ act. Kelly Smith is a student at HWCOM; big sis Natalie Smith goes to Rutgers. FIU allowed Natalie to attend the Match Day ceremony here so the family could be together. She matched into the Psychiatry residency program at LSU. Kelly will be pursuing Obstetrics/Gynecology at St. Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey.
And since Friday was also St. Patrick’s Day, a “leprechaun” took part in the Match Day festivities. William Hasson, who came decked out in green pants, green shirt and a clover-leaf jacket, will be training to become a family medicine physician at the University of South Florida.
“We are immensely proud of the Class of 2017. Their preparation as future physician-leaders in health care is reflected in their outstanding match rate and in the quality of the residency programs where they will continue their training,” said Dr. Robert Hernandez, executive associate dean for student affairs. “We have very high expectations for the class.” (And that’s no Blarney!).