Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 18, 2013) -- Match Day. For most people outside the everyday world of medicine and medical education the words may not be familiar or elicit much emotion. But for about thousands of graduating medical students across the United States -- including 125 at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine -- the day means their future written inside an envelope.
On Friday, March 15, UK’s fourth-year medical students gathered with family and friends at the Keeneland Entertainment Center at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. At exactly noon, students began their way one by one to center stage – to the tune of their predetermined theme song – to open their envelope and reveal where they “matched “ and will be spending the next few years completing their medical training.
As each student announced where they matched, they reached inside a straw basket to draw the envelope of the next classmate to come to the stage. More than two-thirds of students participated in the annual ceremony to publicly open their envelope while others opt to open them more privately with the opportunity to come to the stage at the end of the ceremony to share their destination.
In the end, students matched in a range of specialties including radiation-oncology, plastic surgery, psychiatry and ophthalmology as well as primary care, family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics in locations across the U.S. and one in Newfoundland, Canada. Twenty-seven students will continue residency training at UK.
Match Day ceremonies take place simultaneously at noon the same day every year at medical schools around the country. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), designed to keep the match fair and objective, pairs the wishes of the students with the needs of hospitals’ residency programs.
Prior to Match Day, students complete paperwork and interviews with hospitals and then provide a ranked list of top choices. Hospitals submit a similar list indicating openings, preferred students, and specialty or generalist preferences. Each applicant is matched via computer algorithm to the hospital residency program that is highest on the applicant’s list and has offered the applicant a position.
Below are the stories of three UK College of Medicine students who shared their journeys to Match Day.
Raised in Greenup, Ky., the oldest of seven and son of a local pediatrician, Nate Hudson, greatly admires his father, but was determined not to follow the same career path.
But as college sophomore and basketball player at Ohio University Southern, a regional campus of Ohio University in Ironton, Ohio, his resistance and rebellion dissipated and he knew in his heart he was also meant to be a doctor. He transferred to Morehead State University to complete his pre-med requirements and then was accepted to the UK College of Medicine.
After spending two years in Lexington, Hudson became a member of only the second group of students who will complete the Rural Physician Leadership Program offered by the UK College of Medicine, designed to train physicians to become practitioners and leaders for rural areas.
The program is based at Morehead State University's Center for Health, Education and Research (CHER) with training at St. Claire Regional Medical Center and with physicians in the Northeast Area Health Education Center serving as preceptors.
"The program targets people who want to be leaders in their community and was perfect fit for me and just a great experience," he said. "With only seven students, we receive a lot of one-on-one time with physicians and receive many opportunities and neat experiences."
On Friday, with his wife Katie and one-year-old daughter Moriah by his side, Nate, who is matching to a three-year internal medicine residency, was ready to find out where he and his family will be living for the next phase of their life. "My nerves come in waves at this point," he said. "But it is out of my hands and I know in my heart I will end up where I'm supposed to be."
Nate’s Match: In a ceremony held in Morehead, Nate and his fellow RPLP classmates learned where they will complete the next phase of their medical training. Nate matched to his top choice, Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Internal Medicine.
Fiyin Sokoya has traveled many miles to get to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and along the way he has strived to follow a principle he learned as a young boy in Nigeria, that "wherever you go, leave it a better place than it was before you came."
At UK, Sokoya has certainly met that goal. As class president, he has made the most of his leadership position and found ways to benefit his class and colleagues, the college, and even the Lexington community.
Among his accomplishments since beginning his medical education, he has started an interprofessional lunch and learn series that although first targeted his fellow medical students, now includes other health professions students at UK who meet and learn about each other's profession and how they impact one another in caring for patients.
He also took on the challenge to increase physician participation at the Salvation Army Clinic, a free clinic run by medical students from UK that serves uninsured and underserved patients in the community.
"I try to always contribute as much as I can," said Sokoya, who completed his undergraduate degree in three years at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
After his undergraduate studies were completed in Louisiana, he began looking for a medical school that would be inclusive for an international student and make him feel welcome. He says he found that feeling and found a new home in Lexington. "I can't express enough the hospitality and support that I've received from faculty and administrators," he said. "Being a student leader has allowed me to meet so many people and learn about their lives and how to be a better leader."
Now that four years of medical training at UK is nearly complete, he is ready for the next chapter -- wherever that takes him. Ultimately, he would like to stay in the U.S. but travel often to his native Nigeria to provide medical assistance for children and adults with head and neck malformations.
But before he can take that step, he would open his envelope before classmates and friends on Match Day. Like the thousands of other medical students going through the same experience, he is excited and anxious to learn where he will spend his residency training -- which for Soyoka will be a five-year otolaryngology surgical specialty residency.
"Finding out on Monday that I matched was a big relief, now I'm just excited to find out where I will go," he said.
Fiyin’s Match: University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver for Otolaryngology.
For Nikki Brown of Louisville, competition and challenges have been a way of life since she was two years old. As a member of the gymnastics team at the University of Denver, coming home to Kentucky and beginning medical school at UK four years ago was another step closer to her goal of becoming a pediatrician.
"Being a doctor has always been my dream and I don't really remember wanting to do anything else," she said. "I love kids and really loved science."
While completing her undergraduate degree, she credits her coaching staff at University of Denver for supporting her in achieving her goals both in the classroom and the gym. "They knew that as a pre-med student, academics came first and they were incredibly understanding and supportive."
Returning to Kentucky for medical school was also always part of the plan. "For me, I always knew I wanted to train where I planned to practice so I could get familiar with the community," she said. “I knew from my first interview that UK is where I wanted to be."
And although she has lived in the competitive world of gymnastics for most of her life, at UK she found fellow classmates and faculty to be caring and helpful.
"One of the most memorable and also most surprising things about medical school has been how genuinely supportive everyone has been," Brown said. "I think our class has a special camaraderie and mentality that 'we are all in this together.'"
That camaraderie is also what Brown thinks makes Match Day such a special occasion. "We have all worked so hard to get to this day and it is exciting to celebrate with everyone and find out where they will spend the next part of their life."
Brown, who will be entering a four-year combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency program, says she has done the best she could and worked very hard to be in the position to put the odds in her favor of going where she wants to go. Still, Match Day can be inherently unnerving. "I'm anxious because it isn't just me who is finding out their future," she said. "I'm engaged so where I go the next four years is also where my fiancé and I will go together and it will be where we want to start a family."
Nikki’s Match: University of Louisville School of Medicine in Medicine-Pediatrics.
Media Contact: Kristi Lopez, (859) 806-0445, firstname.lastname@example.org