Helen Zhang and Casey Luckhurst stood on the stage side-by-side, each clutching a white envelope. The two met four years ago when they became roommates, launching the start of their journey together at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
“It’s only fitting to do this together,” Casey said as they began to read the letters that would reveal their fate for the next four years. “We started this together, and now we’re finishing.”
Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd at the J. Wayne Reitz Union grand ballroom as the two announced where they would complete their residency training – Zhang in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Luckhurst at Massachusetts General Hospital for general surgery.
During the college’s annual Match Day, held March 20, 119 other members of the class of 2015 discovered where they would be studying. Students walked onto the stage – some opening their envelope for the first time, others just minutes before – to announce their location of training to the largest crowd a UF Match Day has ever seen. Friends and family also watched a live video stream online from places as far away as Cambodia and Chile.
“Each of you will remember this day among the greatest moments in your lives,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, addressing the students who will graduate May 16. “We are so extremely proud of you and your careers. You are what make this medical school great.”
Out of the 121 students, 18 matched in internal medicine programs and 16 in pediatrics – the most popular specialties for this class. Emergency medicine followed with 14 matches. Thirty-two percent of those graduating will stay in Florida for their residencies, and 22 percent will complete their training at UF in Gainesville. Each of the five military students matched to their top choice.
In addition to breaking the record for the most attendees, a high number of students received their top choice.
“It’s so exciting to see where everyone is going,” said Patpilai Kasinpila, who matched in cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University. “All of my friends ended up getting their top choices, so it was a good culmination – especially from the nerves leading up to this.”
To kick off the momentous day, Lauren Simmons, who matched at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in internal medicine, took over the College of Medicine’s Facebook page, updating followers on the events and emotions leading up to the grand reveal. “This day is life changing. Our residency is the bulk and the heart of our training, so it was really cool to be the voice of the students for this on a large network,” she said.
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 in a post-event gathering. As the final announcement, Erik Su announced he would be completing his residency in pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York.
“You will look back on this day as a highlight in your professional career,” said Jim Duke, M.D. ’85, as he recalled his Match Day ceremony, which took place 30 years ago in the Communicore Building on the UF Health Science Center campus. “On behalf of the Alumni Association, I would like to welcome the Class of 2015 as UF official alumni.”
- Total matches: 121
- Matches at UF: 22
- Matches at UF Jacksonville: 3
- Matches at other in-state programs: 9
- Top five specialties: Medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, radiology and obstetrics and gynecology