Match Day brings agony and ecstasy to students

Alyssa Elso/Contributing Writer

Sitting patiently, waiting to hear your name be called can be one of the most difficult things to do. The seconds become minutes, the minutes become hours, time seems to slow down to a screeching halt.

“I was so nervous sitting in my seat waiting. I was sweating; I was the last person called,” said medical student Daniel Castellanos.

But once your name is called, it can be the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

“Now I am going to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to study pediatrics, I can hardly wait. I am beyond excited,”

FIU’s first-ever graduating class of medical school students celebrated their first “Match Day” on Friday, March 15.

The Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s inaugural class of 33 medical students anxiously waited for their names to be called at Friday’s ceremony, waiting to walk on stage and open up envelopes that would tell them where the next few years of their lives would be spent.

“I barely slept this week waiting for this moment,” said Castellanos.

Match Day, the day medical students around the nation find out where they will be going for the next phase of their training: the specialized program known as residency.

Leading up to Match Day, each student lists, in order of preference, the residency program that he or she would like to attend and each residency program then ranks it applicants in order of its own preferences. The National Resident Matching Program then uses a computer algorithm to place students in the program that is right for them.

“Match day is an important day for the College of Medicine and for students alike, it is the first match day for FIU, and will determine if the College of Medicine is well received by the community, for students it is an exciting day to find out where they will be spending their next years,” said John Rock, dean and senior vice president for Medical Affairs.

All 33 medical students were matched to residencies across the nation in specialties like pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, and general surgery.

The ceremony, which took place at noon on Friday, March  15, started when two baskets were placed on stage. One with 33 envelopes, each bearing a student’s name: inside, the name of the residency program they were assigned. The other basket, containing money from students and administrators that was awarded to the last “match” envelope to be called: Daniel Castellanos.

While most students found out their matches on Friday, one student Michael Hann, already knew his. A member of the Navy, Hann was matched on Dec. 12, the Military Match Day, to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, his hometown.

Among the 33 graduating medical students was Trine Engebretsen, who made national headlines after being Florida’s first liver-transplant recipient. Studying general surgery, Engebretsen is off to the Medical Center of Central Georgia to become the first liver-transplant patient to perform liver-transplant surgery.

With its first successful Match Day concluded, FIU’s HWCOM is closer to joining the ranks alongside other medical schools across the nation, with many more Match Days to come in the following years.