More than 100 medical students gathered at the UCF College of Medicine on Friday to find out where they will begin their medical careers and spend the next three to seven years of their lives.
National Match Day, the third Friday of every March, is the day when medical students across the United States find out their residency, said Wendy Sarubbi, assistant vice president for communications and marketing for Health Affairs at the UCF College of Medicine.
“This is what we’ve been working for, for a solid four years,” Heather Lesch, fourth-year medical student, said.
Medical students spend their fourth year interviewing and seeing patients at potential residencies across the country. During this time, the students list their top choices for residencies, and the residency programs rank their top choices for students, Sarubbi said.
The National Resident Matching Program uses a mathematical algorithm to match students with residencies. Students cannot see their match until noon on Match Day, according to the NRMP website.
The national computer ranking system was designed to make sure students are not discriminated against, and that they have the opportunity to consider all of their options before choosing their top residency choice, said Dr. Marcia Verduin, associate dean of the UCF College of Medicine.
Michelle McGee was one of the medical students who received her match at Match Day 2019. She explained that her match at University of South Florida will help with her chosen specialty of surgery — specifically surgical oncology.
“It’s so exciting to experience this with your family and find out where your life is going to go,” McGee said.
Choosing a specialty is one of the big decisions a student must make in their fourth year, and they apply for residencies within that field, Dr. Deborah German, dean of the UCF College of Medicine, said.
“Students determine which area of medicine they want to pursue,” German said. “In their fourth year, they apply for residencies within that specialty.”
McGee said she chose surgical oncology as her focus because of the impact cancer has had on her family. She said after seeing a few of her own family members go through cancer treatment, she hoped to help others get through it too.
Some students, like McGee, choose their specialty because of personal experience. Others choose their specialty based on their interest in a specific demographic, life stage or medical subject. Tiffany Chan, for example, chose pediatrics because of her interest in working with kids.
“I love kids,” Chan said. “I find that growth and development is so huge.”
Many students choose their specialties during their rotations, where they visit hospitals and see patients, Verduin said.
Saeed Imam said he was surprised to find an interest in urology during his rotations. He said that he did not expect to choose urology as his specialty, but he loved the way he got to know and interact with patients in that field.
“Urology is a very personal field and a very surgical field,” Imam said.
Imam, as well as Lesch and other students who chose specialties in urology and ophthalmology or chose to work for the military, received their matches months before Match Day. These students received their matches in advance because their specialty's match programs function on a different schedule.
While Match Day is certainly an exciting day for students, German said that all the medical students at UCF are dedicated to their studies and future careers year-round.
“Our students are dedicated to becoming good doctors, and getting a match directs them toward their future,” German said.
McGee explained that her and the other medical students were very excited just to be able to practice medicine.
“No matter where we end up, we’re all going to be physicians,” she said.
German gave a speech, before the students opened their envelopes, reminding them of the importance of Match Day in their and their parents' lives. She told them how, when the UCF College of Medicine was built, she asked the architect designing the rotunda for “stars that would twinkle.”
Looking out at the future physicians, German said, “You are UCF College of Medicine’s shining stars.”