Match Day, a rite of passage for medical students about to graduate, is like a huge surprise party celebrated simultaneously by medical schools nationwide.
Here at FIU, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine students and staff gathered on March 17th at the Graham Center for the momentous occasion.
“Ten, nine… three, two, one… Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez counted down to the moment of truth when graduating medical students each opened an envelope marked with their name. Inside, a letter announcing their match -- the residency program where they will continue their medical training and pursue their license to practice medicine. The ballroom, packed with anxious students and their families, erupted in screams and tears of joy, hugs, and collective relief and elation.
"It's so surreal," said Nicholas Conway, who is on his way to becoming a gynecologist and obstetrician. "It's been such a long journey, and I'm happy to report that I'm going home to Rutgers in New Jersey, so I think it was meant to be."
This year's Match Day coincided with St. Patrick's Day, that annual ode to good luck and all things green. Many marked the occasion by wearing green, which is also the color of medicine. From the start, the coincidence felt like a good omen. But having a successful Match Day takes a lot more than luck.
"This is a true measure of the quality of our medical education and our students. Getting to this stage takes determination, commitment, and perseverance, especially amid a pandemic," said Dr. Juan Cendan, dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.
The National Resident Matching Program, or The Match, is a highly competitive process that signals the transition from medical school to hands-on clinical practice where young doctors hone their clinical skills in their chosen specialty. This year, a record number of applicants, nearly 43,000, vied for 40,000 residency slots. Inevitably, thousands will be left out. But all 117 applicants from FIU have jobs waiting for them after graduation.
The latest crop of FIU docs will be fanning out across the nation to study at prestigious programs that include general surgery at Brigham & Women's Hospital, otolaryngology at Yale, emergency medicine at the University of South California, and dermatology at Penn State.
FIU match results are good news for the Sunshine State. Nearly half of the students in the graduating class will perform their residencies in Florida. A third of them, right here in South Florida. They'll work at the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, UF Shands Hospital, UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Orlando Health, Baptist Health South Florida, Cleveland Clinic Florida, and Nicklaus Children's Hospital, among others. This is extremely important because there is a growing national shortage of physicians. And studies show that young doctors tend to set up practice in the area where they do their residency training.
"I'm so, so, so, excited," said Alicia Seife, one of the students staying close to home. She'll soon start her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Memorial Healthcare System in Pembroke Pines. "I just got engaged. My fiancé and family are here. I love Florida. I love working with people here."
Ten years ago, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine celebrated its first Match Day for the 33 students in the inaugural Class of 2013. The classes are considerably larger now, but the excitement is the same, and each envelope still holds the promise of a bright future.