The world looks much different than it did a few months ago, including at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, where the traditionally joyful Match Day gathering of faculty, students, family and friends had to be cancelled to protect everyone in this era of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Instead, participants were encouraged to visit www.med.wayne.edu/match-day to take part in a virtual Match Day celebration that included a recorded video featuring speeches and special appearances from many School of Medicine student leaders, faculty leaders, staff and alumni. Special scholarships and awards for the Class of 2020 were also announced. (Read the list here).
The virtual Match Day celebration for the Class of 2020 held at www.med.wayne.edu/match-day March 20 was the penultimate celebration for the nearly 300 physicians-in-training who will graduate in June. The School of Medicine’s faculty and staff, including Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., Vice Dean of Medical Education Richard Baker, M.D., and Medical Alumni Association President Patrice Harold, M.D., still cheered for their students, who found out via email from the National Residency Match Program where they would be sending the next three to seven years of their respective lives for residency.
Of the entire class, 97.04 percent matched with a residency program for which they interviewed, with 50 percent matching with their first choice. WSU students will fill residency slots in 22 specialties, the top four being Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Emergency Medicine.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development Margit Chadwell, M.D. ’94, wrote a heartfelt letter to the class Thursday.
“Coronavirus may have felled our Match Day event, but it has not destroyed our resolve. Your extraordinary Match outcome stands as a testament to what we knew about you all along and what the rest of the world has now discovered: that you are second to none in your academic achievements, your commitment to service, your clinical preparedness, and your Warrior spirit,” she wrote.
For the majority of medical students across the United States, Match Day is held the same day and time every year. On Match Day, March 20 this year, 270 WSU medical students learned what residency training program they matched with, excluding those who participate in a military-based match and a handful of other early match residencies, which includes Neurology, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology and Urology.
Class of 2020 President David Gelovani opened his email at noon and found out he had matched with his No. 1 pick – a residency in Internal Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
“I am proud to lead the Class of 2020 as president during this time while we all define our own way to celebrate our transition to becoming exceptional physicians. Our colleagues have demonstrated strong advocacy for the safety of our city, state and nation. They have exercised ingenuity in identifying methods of coming together while practicing social distancing. Most importantly, they have assumed roles beyond expectations to help our overwhelmed hospitals, residents, physicians and staff while they tirelessly work to heal our neighbors,” he said. “It is important to remember that regardless of where we enter our residency training, we are going there because our unique skills, talents and interests are needed by the hospital, its patients and their community-at-large. We are obligated at this time more than any other to inject the medical profession with vitality and resilience of young, budding and eager physicians while we provide high quality care for patients in overwhelmed clinics and hospitals during a pandemic. I have no doubt that wherever we go, our contributions will significantly impact our patients and health care systems, and we will look back on these days with a sense of accomplished call to duty.”
In their own homes, students, faculty, staff and family were encouraged to count down the seconds before their WSU sons, daughters, wives, husbands and siblings opened emails containing their residency assignment for the next three to seven years, depending on their specialty.
The Match Day event followed the protocol of the NRMP, a private non-profit corporation established in 1952 to provide a uniform date of appointment to graduate medical education positions in the United States.
WSU’s match rate surpassed this year’s national average match rate of 93.7 percent for allopathic students, in a year that saw 40,084 active allopathic and osteopathic applicants apply for the first time together for 37,256 available residency positions in the U.S. A total of 19,256 M.D. U.S. seniors like those at WSU participated in the Match.
Students found out March 16 whether they matched with one of their preferred residencies, following interviews that began in late 2019. From mid-January through late February, applicants and program directors rank each other in order of preference and submit preference lists to NRMP, which processes them using a computerized mathematical algorithm to match applicants with programs.
The physicians-in-training will receive their medical degrees in a commencement and hooding ceremony in June, and begin residencies in July.
A hefty 49.7 percent of WSU’s Class of 2020 is staying in Michigan, a number similar to previous year statistics. The increase is great news for a state with a projected physician shortage, as studies show that residents who train in Michigan often remain here for the majority of their careers.
Another 32.6 percent will enter primary care residencies, which includes Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and other specialties.
Overall, 21 Michigan-based health systems and centers will welcome Wayne State University graduates to residencies this summer, including 34 to the Detroit Medical Center, 31 to the Henry Ford Health System, 18 to the Beaumont Health System, 10 to the University of Michigan and 13 to Ascension St. John Providence.
Internal Medicine residencies were the most popular clinical discipline at WSU this year, with 52 students entering the specialty. Another 32 students will enter Emergency Medicine programs, and 17 will enter Family Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Diagnostic Radiology (15), Psychiatry (16) and Pediatrics (14) were also popular choices.
Students will practice medicine in hospitals, universities and medical centers in 31 states.
Class of 2020 Vice President Anthony Lemieux is one of several WSU students who participated in the military match. He found out via email in December that he will enter an Orthopaedic Surgery residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington.
“The moment itself was surreal, as eight years of higher education, countless personal sacrifices, and now unnecessary worrying culminated in a moment of sheer joy,” he said.
Lemieux’s now fiancé planned a Match Day party for him at a Detroit bar.
“My father and godmother were among a few of the attendees shedding happy tears. Others, including fellow medical students and high school friends, hugged me like they never have before. Oddly enough, moments like these never quite go how you plan them or unfold like you foresee. Instead of breaking down crying tears of relief, I felt weirdly calm. I stood up a little straighter, my chin a little higher, my stride a little lighter. This was my reward: the realization that everyone important in my world agrees ‘Anthony was meant to be an orthopedic surgeon,” he added. “Since then, I have been eagerly awaiting the moment I could find out and congratulate all those I’ve grown close with over the last four years when they open their envelopes on March 20. Unfortunately, fate had other plans, and the pandemic ultimately jeopardized the expected Match Day celebrations. I immediately felt for my classmates, who wanted nothing more than the celebration owed them for all of their hard work. But as I reflect on my own Match Day experience, I would say this moment, which will lead to a fantastic, unpredictable career, may not be what you expected, but it will be your moment nonetheless. Nothing can take away the moments you touched patients’ lives, the late-night study sessions with classmates and the countless hours spent working toward this singular moment you will never forget.”