Meeting their Match: Anticipation and excitement surround Match Day 2013
“There’s a lot of tension. You go on eighteen or nineteen interviews at all these different places all over the county. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. Then there’s one envelope that basically determines where you’re going.”
This is how Nathan Keller, a member of the Penn State College of Medicine Class of 2013 described the “Match” process that culminates in Match Day, an annual tradition when medical students learn where they will be headed for residency training. Four years of preparation at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the College of Medicine had brought them to the moment when they would open a plain white envelope that contained the location of where they would continue their medical training. Match Day is the culmination of a process that began months ago as students visited and evaluated residency programs – and the programs evaluated them. Some of the students will remain at the Medical Center while others will go to residency programs throughout the country.
More than 130 students took part in the 2013 Match Day ceremony at the Hershey Country Club. The excitement built as the students received their envelopes one by one. Classmates cheered for each other as they counted down to noon, when they were finally able to tear open the envelopes and discover their match.
Some students were matched to their first choice. Others were not as lucky.
Conducted annually by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), matching is done through a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency program directors to fill the training positions available at U.S. teaching hospitals.
Twin brothers Nathan and Matthew Keller may not have been matched with their first choices, but both are excited for the new opportunities their respective programs have to offer.
Matthew matched with SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, while Nathan matched with Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY. “I was trying to stay around here but it didn’t work out,” Matthew said. Nathan added, “There is always a fine line between trying to find the best possible program and trying to stay close to your family. The school I got was high on my list, so I’m pretty excited.”
Natives of Lebanon County, the brothers attended Bucknell University and the College of Medicine together. While they didn’t intend to match to the same school, they are still looking forward to being in close proximity to each other in upstate New York.
Both will specialize in Obstetrics-Gynecology. “The nice thing about OB-GYN is that it really gives you a lot of options, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much,” Nathan said.
After residency training, both are interested in pursuing fellowships. “I hope to get some new experiences and eventually come back to the Hershey area,” Matthew said. “It’s amazing that four years ago you started at this school and now here you are at the next step of your life. It’s exciting.”
For fellow classmate Pam Wagar, Match Day is “the epitome of accomplishment and overcoming obstacles.” Wagar has had the unique experience of learning to practice medicine while being in a wheelchair. “I had to learn to examine patients my way, rather than the way that’s taught, but still getting it done successfully,” Wagar said. “Perceptions on how well I would do were some of my biggest challenges.”
Originally from Reading, PA, Wagar is headed to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA, to pursue Pediatrics. “I spent a lot of time as a pediatric patient myself, so I have an understanding of what kids go through,” she explained.
Her personal experience enables her to relate to patients. “I think they were able to feel a connection with me,” she said. “Some of them actually opened up to me quite a bit.”
She is grateful not only for the support of her teachers at the College of Medicine, but also for the humanistic approach to medicine that she was taught.
Upon completion of her residency training, Wagar plans to sub-specialize and do a fellowship. “I just haven’t decided what,” she said.
As far as plans to return to Pennsylvania, she is “waiting to see where the wind takes me.”
Of the 138 graduates, 16 will remain at the Medical Center for residency; 26 will head to other hospitals within Pennsylvania. In addition, programs in more than 20 other states were represented on the match list.
To view photos from this year’s celebration go to Match Day 2013 Photos.