UW-Madison medical school students in the School of Medicine and Public Health gathered online Friday to celebrate Match Day.
Match Day is a country-wide event intended to notify the class of 2021 about clinical residency training program placements. Students from this year’s graduating class will disperse across 29 states — and Washington D.C. — to pursue residency.
About 65 of the 163 soon-to-be graduates were selected to specialize in primary care disciplines, according to a university news release. This statistic is the result of an emphasis on internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, which ranks 18th in the U.S. News & World Report list of best medical schools for primary care in 2021.
Each year, Match Day celebrates the results of a mutual ranking process between students and schools. A National Resident Match Program algorithm evaluates data, and match results are provided for all prospective residents at one.
This year’s pool of medical school graduates was also acknowledged for their resilience following obstacles brought about by COVID-19 as the pandemic kicked in three-fourths of the way through their medical school experience.
“When COVID started, many of us were in the middle of trying to decide on a specialty,” said medical student Sarah Styer. “We were pulled from rotations for a short while when the lockdowns initially started, which made it harder to explore different specialties. We also lost out on the ability to do away or ‘audition’ rotations at other institutions, which are normally required for certain specialties.”
Styer, who will pursue residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, credits the School of Medicine and Public Health for “making the most” of a virtual Match Day celebration. The theme of the event was “Match Day Live,” featuring comedic pre-recorded skits similar to those in “Saturday Night Live” by school community members. Skits featured included “Match Day Update” and “Matchelorette,” the news release said.
“Match Day Live” was hosted by Associate Professor of Medicine Sam Lubner, M.D., and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics Alexis Eastman, M.D.
“Dr. Lubner and I were both honored and excited to be chosen to host, especially with a comic theme,” Eastman said. “It's a time of great stress and great celebration, and a little humor goes a long way towards breaking the tension of anticipation and reinforcing the bonds the students have forged in their time training together.”
UW School of Medicine and Public Health Dean Robert N. Golden, M.D., also spoke at the university’s virtual Match Day, noting students’ adaptability and emphasizing how it will help them in their careers.
“Your diversity, idealism and energy have made us a better place,” Golden said to students, according to the school’s news release. “I deeply respect the ways you have supported each other and your resilience in navigating the exceptionally turbulent seas of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Eastman also shared belief in the importance of bonds between medical students.
“This year, those bonds have been even more important, as the entire medical education experience was up-ended and re-imagined,” she said. “For both us and the students, it was also a year of overwhelming worry and grief, and for me, the chance to find levity and hope in our future generation of healers is a much-needed light in what has often been a very dark time. I'm so very proud of all of them.”
And while students reflect on their final moments at the UW, they prepare for bright futures ahead in the field.
“It's definitely bittersweet leaving medical school and leaving behind the friendships we've made in medical school, especially with how isolating the last year was for everyone,” Styer said. “But I'm very much looking forward to meeting my new residency classmates and working in my specialty of choice, especially now that everything is slowly returning to some semblance of normalcy!”