Monday, March 31, 2014
Dressed as caped crusaders and other super and mythical heroes, this year’s crop of graduating Virginia Commonwealth University medical students stood waiting in anticipation for their name to be called. A few minutes after noon, hoots and hollers overtook the Bolling Haxall House on East Franklin Street on the third Friday in March, known in the medical education world as Match Day.
The day represents an important milestone in the life of a medical student. It’s the day students across the United States learn where they will go for residency training in their chosen specialties.
Excitement and chaos filled the room as Christopher Woleben, M.D., associate dean of student affairs at the VCU School of Medicine, handed sealed envelopes to the waiting students. Students hastily walked, some even ran, to and from the stage to open their envelopes in front of their friends and family who came to support them on their special day. The room filled with a wave of boisterous cheers as the envelopes were either ripped open out of eagerness or opened slowly out of apprehension.
“I truly enjoy getting to see all of the hard work that students have put into their academic careers come to achievement at Match Day,” Woleben said. “To be present on the day when they find out where they will be completing their residency training is an honor and privilege. Knowing that I may have had some small part in their success keeps me motivated to provide support for future classes of students.”
Priya Venugopal, VCU medical student and 2014 class president, opened her envelope and in the next instant was jumping for joy and into the arms of her fiancé. Her envelope revealed she would be placed at her top choice, the Medical College of Georgia, for pediatric emergency medicine, where her fiancé was also placed.
“I am beyond thrilled. I’m so proud of our class – this has been a long journey,” Venugopal said. “I am glad so many students got placed where they wanted.”
Ninety-eight percent of VCU students matched into a residency program this year. Fifty-eight students were matched into primary care fields, including internal medicine (31), pediatrics (14) and family medicine (13). Other residency placements included several competitive specialties, including anesthesiology (21), obstetrics and gynecology (15), emergency medicine (14) and dermatology (3).
“I think this match rate comments on the high quality of students we are able to recruit and train here at the VCU School of Medicine,” Woleben said. “Our students are welcomed into residency programs all across the country due to the excellent clinical training they receive here.”
Stuart May ripped open his envelope and could hardly contain his excitement.
“I feel great. Just getting matched is a big deal, and I’m excited to be going to Marshall,” said May, who will be pursuing a specialty in obstetrics and gynecology at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.
The matching process begins in December and January when students visit various hospitals around the country to rank their top choices. Hospitals then rank their top candidates.
The data is sent to the National Resident Matching Program, which was established in 1952 to match medical students with residencies. An algorithm is used to establish the matches and the results are distributed to each student’s school to be opened on the third Friday of March.
Morgan Doughty, who is pursuing a specialty in pediatrics, screamed at the top of her lungs with excitement along with her friends when she learned she would be going to the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
“This feels amazing,” Doughty said, smiling from ear to ear. “But I am also terrified leaving everything I know. This is going to be a great experience.”
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