"Match Day" Madness at Temple University School of Medicine
After up to 20 years of school, countless tests and more late-night study sessions than they can count, it all came down to this for 173 fourth-year Temple medical students – Match Day 2014.
Held on March 21, Match Day is the day when all fourth-year medical students in the United States simultaneously open a sealed envelope and find out what hospital they "matched" with for their residencies. It's one of the most important – and emotional – days in a student’s journey to being a physician.
A few minutes before the noon envelope opening, Larry Kaiser, MD, Dean of Temple's School of Medicine, quipped to the gathered crowd that "the rest of your life is in that envelope…no big deal." After a few more heartfelt words of encouragement, Dr. Kaiser introduced Executive Dean Arthur Feldman, MD, PhD, a cardiologist by training, who kept the mood light when he offered his services "to anyone in the crowd who may be having palpitations."
With 10 seconds to go until noon, Dr. Feldman began counting down to zero. The room took a collective breath, envelopes were ripped open and then…mayhem.
Hugs. Cheers. High fives. Tears. Gasps. Screams. Smiles. Laugher. Disbelief. Fist bumps. All occurred simultaneously in the tightly packed lobby of the Medical Education Research Building.
Nathan Riley, his girlfriend and family members popped a bottle of champagne after he found out he matched with Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center for OB/Gyn.
"It's overwhelming," he said. "It's been a tough four years. My father was sick when I entered medical school and he isn't here with us today. It's very emotional."
Awad Ahmed matched with Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for Radiation Oncology. "I wasn't sure I would get it…you could say I'm a little excited," he said, tongue firmly implanted in cheek.
A beaming Herb White, Assistant Vice President of Finance for Temple University Health System, was there with his daughter Molly, a Temple medical student, and her husband, Alex Deak, who found out he matched with Temple University Hospital for internal medicine. Joining them were two of the smallest Owls in the room, two-and-a-half-year-old Mary and 11-month-old Lucy.
The matching process has been compared to "rush week" for fraternities and sororities: students and teaching hospitals first try to impress each other, then they rank each other in order of preference. A computer sorts through tens of thousands of preferences and spits out the matches.
Back in the lobby of the Medical Education Research Building, the pent-up nervousness that led up to the noon hour quickly dissipated into a million different emotions for the students. Soon, many of them made their way over to a large board that held a map of the United States. Each grabbed a small star sticker and placed it on the city where they will spend the next several years of their lives in training.
Miami. Los Angeles. Cincinnati. Chicago. Ann Arbor. Boston. New York. Tucson. St. Louis. Temple Owls truly will be everywhere.