Just over a month before the official graduation ceremony, a nice banquet room at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the northwest corner of MSU's East Lansing campus is filled with fourth-year students. Other CHM sites, like those in Grand Rapids and Traverse City are also hosting students on this special occasion.
In each of those rooms, anxiety and anticipation are just as present as the students, friends, and family that fill the seats. It is minutes before noon on Friday, March 21, 2014, and each medical school senior is being handed a plain, white envelope with very important information nuzzled inside.
It's Match Day.
While CHM's Class of 2014 has now been removed from the medical school application process for several years now, Match Day serves as very visible mark of achievement for potential medical school applicants to dream about and strive toward. It's one of the most important milestones in a student's time at medical school.
|CHM students gather with family and friends on Match Day, a milestone for medical school students.|
This suspense-filled ritual is where graduating medical school students find out where they will begin their careers as doctors. The annual "Match" is conducted by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Students rank their preferences of hospitals and, likewise, the hospitals choose which students they want as residents. Each side's preferences go into NRMP, which is the system that matches those preferences.
Once the clock strikes noon, students receive the go-ahead to open the next page of their lives and see which residency program they've been matched with. Anxiety and anticipation soon are replaced with relief and joy.
It's been a long time coming, after all. Four years of hard work in classrooms and clinical sites have led CHM's graduating class to spend much of their senior year interviewing at hospitals around the country.
They're not alone.
Each year, over 16,000 medical school graduates will have competed for residency positions. Thus, Match Day is celebrated across the nation on the same day and time with hundreds of medical schools taking part in the event.
This year, CHM seniors had a terrific 98% match success rate. The national average is just over 94%.
|Students are each handed envelopes with results to which residency program they are matched with.|
"(My emotions) have been just all over the place. I had no idea where I would end up. I applied to a wide range of places so it was kind of up in the air," said graduating CHM student, Abdullah Wafa.
While Wafa didn't get into his most preferred destination, he was happy to be matched with an institution in his top five.
"That uncertainty was pretty heavy to deal with but I’m fortunate enough to have listed only places that I’d really like to go to. So, that was a little bit of a relief," Wafa added.
According to the Assistant Dean of the CHM Lansing Campus, Renuka Gera, MD, a large number of people did receive their top preference, however. One of those students is Detroit-native, Simran Chawa. While the match can take some people across the country, Chawa will not be traveling far to begin life after medical school.
"I’ll be in Detroit—Henry Ford (Hospital). I was actually born in North Carolina but raised in Detroit, so I’ll be going back home," said Chawa, who felt relieved after initially coming into Match Day nervous yet excited.
"Right now, I still need time to process it but I feel good. I’m actually feeling quite good right now," Chawa says with a smile that wouldn't cause anyone to doubt it.
|CHM seniors celebrate after finding out where they will begin their careers as official Spartan MD's.|
"This is what they work for," points out Dr. Gera. "A majority of the students interview at 8-10 programs. There's a lot of travel, anxiety, and effort in trying to match."
It is this fact that makes Match Day's revelations so emotional.
"I'm so excited! I just can't wait to go there," says Erica Graney, who will be joining Chawa at Henry Ford Hospital—also her first preference.
It is that emotion that leads Graney to reflect on how CHM has helped her get to this point despite her anxiousness to move forward. "I feel like MSU was a great place to be to get me towards where I wanted to go. I think the environment really prepared me well for matching at my number one."
|Erica Graney (alongside a friend) and Abdullah Wafa are very pleased with their Match Day results. Good luck!|
So while the end result may be challenging to see for someone who is still only applying to medical school, the light is there for your own emotional Match Day. Yet it is what Match Day represents that is the main goal.
"I’m still in shock-mode right now but I am relieved that I actually know where I’m going to end up," says Wafa. "I’m looking forward to moving to the next stage of my career."