Match Day: Medicine meets Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat
It’s a scene straight out of Harry Potter: Nervous students await their fate during an annual ritual.
But unlike Hogwarts' wizards-in-training, graduating medical students around the country don’t have a magic hat determining their future on Match Day. Instead, the National Residency Matching Program decides where they’ll spend the next three to seven years as residents.
The pairing began months ago with applications and interviews. Students then ranked their desired destinations, from rural clinics to urban hospitals. The moment of truth arrived at 9 a.m. today, when 202 students from the UW School of Medicine’s graduating class of 2016 gathered with friends, family, faculty and peers to learn where they would start building their careers.
A few days ago, several students shared some thoughts about their pasts and futures.
Fernanda Delgado: Studying combined internal medicine and pediatrics. Her match is the Unversity of Southern California.
Why medicine? “My dad is a musician and my mom is a nurse. Growing up, they reminded me that life is a nice balance of art and science. I always loved poetry and calligraphy but knew they weren’t my calling. I decided I wanted to be a science teacher, which eventually led me to pre-medical studies. After four years here, I know how the body works, but UW’s clinical training teaches students, as future providers, to help someone as a fellow person. The humble and compassionate side of medicine is celebrated at UW School of Medicine.”
Why med-peds? “After high school I began working toward becoming a science teacher, as I enjoyed mentoring kids and teenagers. Teaching science and health in college led me to Med-Peds, which lets me take care of kids with complex medical needs who transition to become adults with these needs. Having specialty training in both worlds can offer a unique perspective on this transition.”
Match-Josephine and Tom
Josephine Garcia and Tom Wright: Studying internal medicine and plastic surgery, respectively. The couple matched to the University of Utah.
Why medicine? Josephine: “Both of my parents are physicians and amazing role models for me. Initially I was interested in bioengineering, but then when I was working as a dialysis technician I really enjoyed my interactions with the patients. I saw the doctors did, too.”
Tom: “I have lots of doctors in my family, so I was exposed to it early on. I always enjoyed helping people, so it felt like a good fit.”
Favorite memory from UW? Tom: “Obviously when I met Josephine.”
Josephine: “Which was at a swing dance at the Little Red Hen. It was a fun med school outing our second year here.”
Short-term goals: Tom: “I want to complete my residency and find a job as a hand surgeon. It’s a fascinating, intricate part of the anatomy.”
Josephine: “Step one is to get through Match Day. It’s nerve-wracking; we could be anywhere for the next six years. I’m not quite sure I’ll be specializing, but I look forward to exploring my options during residency.”
Ashley Dixon: Accepted a pediatric urology research fellowship at University of Tennessee-Memphis (and had a stress-free Match Day)
Why medicine? “My mom got breast cancer when I was in the ninth grade. At the time I thought I would go into business or become a lawyer, but I so appreciated the way the surgeon interacted with my mother. He had such a smooth what I now know is called bedside manner. I started to ask lots of questions about medicine, and he took me under his wing as a mentor. We still have a great relationship; he’s coming to my graduation.”
Why urology? “It’s not purely surgery, and it’s not purely medicine, but it perfectly intertwines the two. It’s a little bit of everything, which I really like. Plus urologists are more my people. I’ve never met a urologist that I didn’t like.”
What will you miss most about UW? “When you are in a setting that’s as rigorous as medical school, you find your people, the ones who help you get through it. I’ll miss my people as they split off and go to different parts of the country.”
Elisabeth Bedolla Rocha: Studying family medicine. Her match is Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, California.
Why medicine? “English is my second language – Spanish is my first – so math and science were always much easier and more fun for me than other subjects. Studying biology and chemistry in college opened my eyes to medicine and research and mentorship, and I thought med school would be a perfect way to combine it all. I look forward to working with my patients and my community and helping the next generation of underrepresented students as a mentor.”
Favorite memory from UW? “It’s all a bit of a blur. Sometimes you think you won’t make it to the next step, but you find good peers to lean on and great mentors along the way and you learn after each and every rotation. It’s nice to look back and see how much you’ve grown as a person and a future provider.”
Erica Foster: Studying family medicine. Her match is Swedish Family Medicine in Seattle.
Why medicine? “The town I grew up in was a rural fishing community in Alaska. It was the fishery there that got me interested in biology and anatomy in the first place. At some point I combined that with my desire to work with people, and I got on a path to medicine.”
Short-term career plans? “Ultimately I want to practice medicine in a small community similar to where I grew up. I enjoy rural medicine and getting to be a part of the community.”
Favorite UW memory? “I’ve very much enjoyed medical school; I loved every year more than the last. I’ll miss being a student, but I’m ready to become a resident and have more responsibility for patient care. In terms of experience, working in small communities and seeing the need for improved health care pushed me to want to become a primary care physician and really shaped my medical education.”
The 2016 Match had 42,370 applicants nationwide vying for more than 30,750 residency positions across the country. At UW, 31 percent matched into residency programs in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region, and 42 percent are going into primary care specialties.