Categories:  Campus, Students

In annual ritual, they meet their match

Videography by S K Vemmer

 

They’ve spent four years training side by side, so why not share one of the most important moments of their careers together?

Members of UIC’s College of Medicine Class of 2014 decided to open their Match Day envelopes together at 11 a.m. Friday, finding out where they will train for their residency programs.

“This class is a very close, tight class and they wanted to open all of their envelopes together,” said Kathleen Kashima, senior associate dean of students in the College of Medicine.

Traditionally, students receive their letters one by one, but this year the 182 students gathered at the Mid-America Club at Aon Center collected their envelopes around 10:50 a.m. They chatted nervously and took photos before counting down to 11 a.m.

By 11:01 a.m., the crowd had erupted into cheers and happy tears.

“This is the kind of event that makes everybody happy,” said Dimitri Azar, dean of the College of Medicine. “This is one of my favorite days in the college because it’s a celebration of the excellence of our students.”

More than 16,000 students at medical schools nationwide were matched to residencies this year through the National Resident Matching Program.

Of UIC’s Chicago campus students, 49 percent will stay in Illinois for their residency programs, with the rest off to medical centers in 24 states. The top specialties for the UIC match were internal medicine (32 percent), emergency medicine (22 percent), family medicine (22 percent), orthopaedics (11 percent), pediatrics (11 percent) and general surgery (9 percent).

Forty-four students from the College of Medicine’s Rockford campus, 44 from Peoria and 18 at the Urbana-Champaign campus received their placements on Match Day.

The top five hospital placements for students from the Chicago campus were UIC, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Rush and Loyola.

Christine Warner is excited to stay at UIC for a residency program in surgery.

“I got UIC and that’s exactly what I wanted,” she said. “Patients are at their most vulnerable when they have to go into surgery and I want to contribute to them getting better.”

Smiling woman hugging friend

Medical students celebrate their residency placements March 21 at Match Day. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

Match Day means so much to students because it tells them where they will spend the next three to five years training to be doctors, Warner said.

“It’s a big deal because it’s been four years of hard work, studying, sleepless nights,” she said. “It all culminates in this day.”

Amber Price received her top choice: pediatrics in the medical education track at University of Chicago.

“UIC has been amazing,” she said. “They believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Price’s interest in pediatrics comes from experience — she has a daughter, Elise, who turns 3 next month. “I’ve learned a lot about pediatrics just by being a mom,” she said. “It’s also taught me a lot about time management.”

Aurora Shehu’s interest in dermatology was sparked by a case she worked on during her pediatrics rotation. She helped find a treatment for a 5-year-old boy  whose skin condition left him with wounds all over his body, she said.

“I really loved helping him,” she said. “And I realized that dermatology was everywhere.”

Shehu, who also has a doctorate in physiology from UIC, will complete her residency at Penn State, one of the nation’s top programs in dermatology.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “UIC trained me very well.”

Class president Victor Nwankwo attended Match Day to support his classmates. Nwankwo is following a nontraditional path: he received a postdoctoral research position at Cornell University, a position students usually receive after completing residency. Once he finishes his research position, he will return to UIC to receive a residency placement at next year’s Match Day.

“It’s a really special day for me and I feel all of the energy — it’s palpable,” he said.