'So Happy!' Graduating Pitt Medical Students Anxiously Face Match Day

Mar 16, 2018

Shouts of surprise and joy erupted Friday at noon from graduating students at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.

The highly emotionally “Match Day" is when future doctors learn where they’ll be heading for their residencies -- specialized, on-the-job training, which last three or more years. The event takes place on the third Friday of March at medical schools across the country.

Graduating students of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, along with classmates, faculty, friends and family, gather at the Petersen Event Center for the 2018 Match Day ceremony where they'll learn where the future doctors are heading for their residency programs.
Credit UPMC

“Johns Hopkins, my number one!” exclaimed Nadeige Chop, crying tears of joy while embracing her siblings and fiancé. “So happy, oh my god. This is so surreal, I can’t believe this.”

The 26-year-old, who plans to specialize in anesthesiology, said she woke up with butterflies in her stomach.

“Obviously nightmares the night before,” said Chop. “And then you get up, just counting down, counting down.”

Students rank their preferences, but don’t have final say. The National Residency Matching Program, a private, not-for-profit corporation, determines the assignments.

Instead of learning of their placements individually, like many medical schools, Pitt holds an annual ceremony when students open their envelops in unison. 

"It is a little bit weird," said Maulin Shah, 30, who plans to go into internal medicine. "But, yeah, it's also exciting and fun too."

Shah is heading to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he'll be closer to family.

"These are my roommates now," said Shah, gesturing to his parents.

More than a quarter of this year’s group will remain in Pittsburgh after May graduation, the majority of those landing positions at UPMC. Other major destinations include Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan and University of Washington.

Will Holliday, 35, holds his son, after finding out he's headed to Torrance, CA, to train in psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Credit UPMC

Will Holliday, 35, did not get any of his top three choices. But he will be moving to California, for a psychiatry residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which is where his wife, Nicole, is from.

“I didn’t get my top choices, but happy to match anywhere I guess,” he said.

In addition to his wife and son, Holliday’s mother, a psychologist, and his sister and father, both psychiatrists, also attended to event. Afterwards they planned to celebrate with champagne.

“Medicine is kind of like the military,” said Holliday's father, Bill, 71. “You get sent off and you don’t have a lot of choice.”

One student who doesn’t have to move across the country is 27-year-old Shirya Kaneriya. She’ll do a psychiatry residency at UPMC.  

“This has been a long journey, and I think it’s really great that it’s kind of finally done,” she said. “This is what we’ve been working towards for four years. It’s very exciting to see everybody happy and matched, and kind of moving on and becoming doctors.”

WESA receives funding from UPMC.