“Unbelievable,” is how MD-PhD Deputy Director Fred Gorelick, MD, Henry J. and Joan W. Binder Professor of Medicine (Digestive Diseases) and professor of cell biology, described the impressive match list for the 91 students in the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) MD Class of 2021.
These results were celebrated virtually on March 19, 2021, with students, faculty, staff, family, and friends signing onto a Zoom gathering at 11:45 a.m. from more than 130 devices. While COVID-19 restrictions required the gathering to be virtual for the second year in a row, that did not detract from the excitement and significance of the day.
Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, told the students that Match Day is at once very personal, “reflecting your work, your passion, and your aspirations,” and at the same time a communal experience shared with classmates, families, and the extended YSM community. She acknowledged the students’ families and loved ones for the support they provided, the student advisors and Office of Student Affairs for shepherding the students through the match process, and the faculty and staff who “have been and will remain invested in your success as physicians and in life.” Reflecting on the matching process, Brown said, “in just a few minutes you will learn where you have matched for residency. You are embarking on a journey. Savor this beginning. For some it may be an unexpected journey. Savor that gift too.”
Associate Dean for Student Affairs Nancy Angoff, MD, MPH, MEd praised the students for their resiliency and ability to pivot when confronted with the pandemic, adding, “you gave to your patients, the community, each other. You deserve everything coming your way.” Recognizing the unpredictability of the match process, she shared, “no matter where you go, you are going to be the thing you wanted to be.” Showing her deep respect for their capabilities as the doctors they are about to become, she stated, “I would be very happy to have any one of you treat anyone I love.”
Several academic advisors and other faculty chimed in with their good wishes, including Emily Wang, MD, professor of medicine (general medicine) and of public health (social and behavioral sciences), who said, “I cannot be more excited and more proud.”
As the time approached noon, when the match results were to be released nationally by email, MD student Shaunte Butler, one of the class presidents who had helped organize the event, began to explain how she had created breakout rooms for the different specialties to join once the results were released, as well as a room for the MD-PhD Program and for the “original” Class of 2021, which began medical school in August 2017. Suddenly at 11:59 a.m. Butler shifted course, exclaiming, “the emails came earlier,” and got up from her seat and left the Zoom screen. Shouts of joy could be heard from off-screen and about a minute later Butler, who applied for anesthesiology residencies, reappeared to share she will be going to Massachusetts General Hospital.
There was an air of nervous energy for the next minute, because the emails announcing where people matched did not all arrive simultaneously. Then the number of participants on the main Zoom screen began to drop, as students privately read their match letters and connected with family and friends, or joined breakout rooms.
“I was thrilled! I fist-pumped and screamed ‘YESS!’" is how MD student Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako, MS, describes his reaction when he learned he had matched at Brigham and Women's Hospital for an internal medicine-primary care residency.
Tiako received his match results online in his bedroom in New Haven, but he was connected on Zoom with family members spread out around the world including some in Washington, DC, his brother in France, and his parents in Cameroon, plus friends in the US. Tiako was happy to hear from several YSM alumni who are currently Brigham residents shortly after he learned about his match.
June Criscione, an MD student who matched at Yale-New Haven Hospital--Internal Medicine Pediatrics Program, had joined the group Zoom from her home in downtown New Haven. When her notification email arrived, she left the Zoom, re-read the e-mail several times, and took a few deep breaths after a morning of anticipation. She then joined her family on Zoom to tell them the news. She says, “through all the ups and downs of medical school, I have overall loved my time at Yale and in New Haven and I was very excited to find out that I would be continuing my training here!”
MD student Kirthi Bellamkonda, who was seeking a vascular surgery residency, was ecstatic when she learned she had matched at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “To match at an institution I really fell in love with during my interview was a great joy,” she said. She opened her results in the same place she had sat for all her interviews—at her desk in her apartment in New Haven. Three close friends were with her on Zoom. “It felt like a poetic way to share the end of this process with the people I have leaned on most throughout.”
George Linderman, an MD-PhD student who applied for general surgery residencies, was with his father, who is a surgeon, when he received his results. Linderman’s interest in surgery began from seeing the enormous impact his father had on patients' lives—both in and out of the operating room— and he says his father “has always been my role model, and I am blessed to have shared the excitement of Match Day with him.” Linderman, who matched into the general surgery residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said that “since interviewing at the MGH, I felt that it would be the ideal place for this next stage of my training. I am beyond excited to have matched there.”
Linette Bosques Nieves, an MD student who completed her PhD in biology at Yale prior to medical school, popped onto the main screen to share that while she is sad to be leaving Yale, she is excited that she will be part of the physician-scientist track in internal medicine at MGH. Reflecting how the match is about more than the excellence of the residency program, Bosques Nieves shared that she had wanted to be in a city such as Boston that has flights to Puerto Rico, where much of her family is and where she was born and lived until her college graduation from University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez. She also noted that five of her mom’s seven siblings live in Massachusetts and one of them already has told her she will come over and cook rice, beans, and chicken for her so that she will have something to eat when she is busy with her residency.