UF College of Medicine student Felicia Pierre was too nervous to eat. Surrounded by her mother, friends and classmates, she awaited opening the enveloped letter that would reveal her fate.
But when Patrick Duff, M.D., the college’s associate dean for student affairs, presented a slideshow previewing the states each student would voyage to complete their residency, an arrow pointed to the state of Hawaii. The island is not only the location of Pierre’s No. 1 choice, the University of Hawaii, but also where her fiancé is stationed on active duty in the Army.
“When he announced that one of us would be in Hawaii, my entire table cried with me,” recalled Pierre, who will train in pediatrics. “Now I’m ready to learn how to surf!”
Pierre is one of 125 UF medical students graduating May 10 who found out where they matched for their residency training during the college’s annual Match Day ceremony, held March 21 at the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Family and friends worldwide, from Germany to Hawaii, also viewed a live video stream of the event online.
Michael Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, said Match Day is such an important day that he could still recall his own 30 years later. He was a graduating medical student at the University of Michigan and he was matched to an anesthesiology residency at the University of Florida.
“Today is the day your future really begins to crystallize,” he said. “I can remember this day 30 years ago, when I pulled out that envelope that was both career-changing and life-changing. You will remember this day forever.”
Thirty-six percent of graduating students will stay in Florida for their residencies, with 29 percent completing their training at UF, said Duff.
Nationally, 85 percent of students matched to one of their top three residency choices. Meanwhile, UF’s senior class broke two records, with 13 couples matching and 14 students choosing careers in family medicine.
One of those couples is soon-to-be-married Natalie Elliot and Brian Blumenauer, a student of the Florida State University College of Medicine who missed his match day to attend Natalie’s at UF. Despite attending separate universities, the couple was able to match together and will attend the University of Texas in Houston — Natalie in emergency medicine and Brian in general surgery.
“We met in our very first undergraduate class, so we are excited to — after four years — finally be able to live together,” Blumenauer said. “And because I’m in general surgery, we will be able to consult one another.”
Forty-seven percent of graduating UF students chose a primary care specialty, such as family or internal medicine, pediatrics or obstetrics/gynecology. The most popular specialties among the class of 2014 were medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.
John McCauley, who was the only member of his class match in the military, found out in January that he would be attending Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Because of his position in the military, he and his wife could not match as a couple, leaving them to “play the geographic lottery.”
“She applied to five programs, which isn’t a lot, because we wanted to stay within the same area,” McCauley said of his wife, Rebecca, who waited to open her envelope until she was on stage. “It worked out really well, because she got into Georgetown University right across town from me.”
As a smiling Rebecca walked off the stage, John ran up to her in an emotionally joyful embrace — one of many causes for celebration during the Match Day ceremony.
After students read their matches to the audience, they placed a dollar bill into the box given to the student whose name is called last. The intended purpose of the cash pile is to celebrate at a post-event gathering. As the final envelope opened, Holly Cunningham excitedly announced she would attend the University of Southwestern Medical Program in Dallas, Texas.
“And now,” she said holding the box of cash in one hand, her letter in the other, “it’s time to make it rain!”
Total matches: 125
Matches at UF: 29
Matches at other in-state programs: 16
Top five specialties: Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, OB-GYN, Emergency Medicine