By Rhea Riley
The hall was a bundle of nerves as students and their families filled the ballroom at the Italian Community Center. In dark green “MCW Match Day 2019” T-shirts, more than 235 students from the Medical College of Wisconsin waited anxiously. Eight years of hard work has led them to this and in the next few moments they would see where it paid off.
At 11 a.m. on the third Friday of March, medical students across the country found out their next destination in their medical journey’s in what is known as “Match Day.”
Match Day is a ceremony for medical students to find out where they will be placed for their post medical school residency training. These residencies are programs that are focused on hands-on training for students in their specific practice in medicine. Varying from neurosurgery at UCLA to emergency medicine at the Mayo Clinic—Match Day solidifies the door to the next chapter in medicine.
“Different specialties have a different level of competitiveness and a different number of slots for residency,” said Carol Ping Tsao, MD, JD, associate dean for student affairs.
“Most competitive ones have the fewest slots and are very very selective.”
Matched students receive their results through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). Through this service, each student in their last year of medical school goes through a process of applying and interviewing with directors from medical programs from across the country. Based off of these experiences, the students then rank their preference in the program from highest to lowest. The directors of medical programs do the same, ranking their selections of students by interviews and allotted slots.
“I’m most excited because they’re most excited,” said Tsao. “All of these guys know that they matched, they know that they are going to be doing residency. So, they are like, a really short time away from being minted medical doctors.”
But the excitement was easily overwhelmed by nervousness as these unknown results held weight. What is written inside the Match Day envelope can change their lives drastically, leaving large uncertainty to the future. For D.C native, Victoria Lyons, these results could lead to another big move.
“It’s exciting in the fact that I will be a doctor soon and practicing my love, my specialty but then again nerve-wrecking because I don’t know where I’m going to be, I don’t know what city what town,” said Lyons on her impending results. “I don’t know how I’m going to know transition my life.”
Lyons awaited her placement in an OBGYN program. Her first choice was entering the program at Georgetown however, the results could mean staying in Milwaukee, moving closer to home, or moving across the country again.
“I interviewed all over the place, as high as Rochester, down to Miami so I could be at any of those places,” said Lyons.
With the long distance her family was not there to wait with Lyons for her results.
Once the clock striked eleven each envelope was wheeled through a bin and one by one students were called to receive their “fate.”
Married couple Zach and Rachel Helmen embraced the results. They made Match Day a smaller affair, not wanting to invite their families for what could be disappointing news. However, what was inside their Match Day Envelope spelled out an exciting new adventure.
“We are going to Miami!” said Zach Helmen. Zach would be continuing his education within the Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) residency program at the University of Miami, Jackson Memorial hospital.
“It was my first choice for sure,” said Rachel Helmen, Zach’s wife. “So, we are so excited, I lost all control of emotion.”
Zach shared the news with Rachel who has been by his side this entire time. They met in undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rachel, who is a nurse, is ready for the big move as they can start their new life.
“We did this whole journey together,” said Rachel.
The rest of match day was filled with shrieks of joy and sighs of relief as some of Milwaukee’s finest medical students ventured into their final voyage of medicine and saving lives.