A day to remember
The UF College of Medicine Class of 2017 plots its future at annual Match Day ceremony
March 17, 2017 — Alice Abernathy, a fourth-year student at the UF College of Medicine, slowly approaches the stage. Loved ones hoot her name. When she reaches the table near the podium, she picks up an envelope bearing her name and, inside, the location of the residency program where she will study obstetrics and gynecology.
At the annual Match Day ceremony, held this year on March 17 at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, students have the choice of opening their envelope and discovering their futures right away or waiting until they are called up to the podium microphone to make the big reveal. Abernathy simply gives her envelope a kiss and returns to her seat to patiently wait her turn.
In time, her feet carry her onto the stage, and her fingers nimbly strip away the envelope concealing the next years of her life. “Brigham and Women’s,” Abernathy proudly announces to her classmates, faculty, friends and family. Her eyes close as a smile spreads over her face. She matched with her top choice, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a world-renowned institution adjacent to Harvard Medical School in Boston. A friend runs to Abernathy and grabs her around the waist. Her black and white heels dance in mid-air.
Of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2017, 126 students participated in this year’s Match Day ceremony, connecting with programs from Los Angeles to Seattle, from New York to Houston. Of that number, 29 percent will stay in Florida and 19 percent will stay in Gainesville as new residents at the UF College of Medicine. Forty-one percent of the class matched in primary care programs, encompassing pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology.
Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine, provided the ceremony’s opening remarks. He explained for students and their loved ones the effects of stress on memory retention. In short, he said, the surplus of nerves in the room will create a lasting experience for all involved.
“This is a day you won’t forget,” he said. “It’s a wonderful milestone in the journey toward becoming physicians.”
James Duke, M.D. ’85, president of the UF Medical Alumni Affairs Board of Directors, called the ceremony a special rite of passage and a highlight for students embarking on their professional lives.
“You will find that the UF College of Medicine has more than sufficiently prepared you for this next step of your journey,” he said.
Emergency medicine residencies accounted for 17 percent of this year’s matches. Kimberly Swartz matched in emergency medicine at Indiana University. This means she will join her fiancé, who graduated from the UF College of Medicine in 2015, and will begin her residency in Indianapolis.
“I’m very happy and relieved to put an end to my long-distance relationship,” she said. “We will be co-residents together now. It’s amazing.”
Kimberly Papa and two of her classmates will begin residencies at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. She said she couldn’t dream of being a resident anywhere else.
“My heart is in Jacksonville. When I did my rotation there, they welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “I’m excited to go back and join their family.”
Weston Bertot was the last student to go onstage and open an envelope. For his patience, he received a gift bag in which each member of his class placed a dollar bill. The gift will come in handy when he moves to Chicago to begin a residency in general surgery at Northwestern University.
“I feel absolutely thrilled to match at my top choice,” he said. “It’s outstanding how well our class did. I’m excited to see what this next generation of Gator doctors will accomplish.”
The UF College of Medicine welcomed 220 new residents in Gainesville and 87 in Jacksonville who will start their training in July.
Photos by Mindy C. Miller | See more photos on Facebook