Class of 2013 Celebrates Match Day Successes with Cheers and Tears

With hearts pounding, pulses racing, palms sweating and tears of relief flowing, members of the Class of 2013 bounded up on stage and, each in their own way, shared where they’ll spend the next three to seven years of their training – and likely their lives.

Matthew Markert chose to sing a rhythm and blues tune in perfect pitch: “I’m going to Kansas City,” he warbled, elated to tear open the envelope and see his No. 1 choice, a neurology residency at the University of Kansas, inside.

Derek Monette bounced up and down, up and down, after reading that he’ll be heading to Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for an anesthesiology residency. “I am nervous, shocked, elated, relieved and exhausted,” he said, out of breath from running down the aisle to hug his grandmother.

And Joanna and Victoria Bedell, two of three triplets born a minute apart, proved the binding power of their shared genes: They each wept upon learning, about an hour apart, that they’ll both be following their mom into OB-GYN careers with OB-GYN residencies at, respectively, Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Washington University’s Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Ditto for sister No. 3, Sarah, who will graduate from New York University’s medical school and head to UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” said mom Janet Gersten, M.D.

Pride was the order of the day when Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, kicked off the boisterous Match Day ceremony held March 15 under a white tent on the Schoninger Research Quadrangle with a heartfelt salute to the Class of 2013. “We are extremely proud of your achievements and your accomplishments,” Mechaber told the 187 seniors who were among 17,487 graduating seniors across the nation participating in the largest main residency match ever conducted by the National Resident Matching Program. Established in 1952, the program relies on a computerized algorithm to match the ranked preferences of graduating medical students with the preferences of residency programs seeking to fill thousands of positions at U.S. teaching hospitals.

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., noting that Miller School students are among the few privileged professionals guaranteed jobs upon graduation, congratulated the students, their parents, other loved ones and, not least of all, their devoted and talented professors and mentors, whom he asked to stand up and be recognized with thunderous applause, on “an amazing match.” Then the Dean issued some wise advice to those unfamiliar with the nerve-wracking, ear-splitting joy ride that lay ahead: “Put your seat belts on!” he warned.

First to be randomly called to the stage was Marek Hirsch, who kicked off the non-stop cheering by tearing open the envelope the Dean handed him and reading the very words he had hoped to see: He’s headed back to home turf and Harvard South Shore for a residency in psychiatry.

“I feel fantastic,” Hirsh said, nervously initialing and affixing the first round sticker to the map that, by the celebration’s end, would show his classmates had landed many highly competitive residencies, including eight in dermatology, 11 in ophthalmology and six in orthopaedics, at very distinguished institutions.

“It’s been a long road, but worth it,” Hirsh said.

Seth Wander kept the Miller School’s streak of sending one grad to Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital’s internal medicine residency, and Jonathan England doubled the prestige by landing a pathology residency there, too. England, who entered the match with Joanna Bedell, one of the triplets, couldn’t have been happier. Massachusetts General and Tufts Medical Center are just a few miles apart.

England and Bedell were among 935 couples nationwide, an all-time high, who elected to link their residency rank order lists together to increase their chances of training in close geographic proximity.

The first parent to take the stage with child in tow was Mabel Marotta, whose daughter Sofia Olivia, now the picture of good health, was born two months premature in October. A Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. at age 20, Marotta was thrilled to announce she would remain at Jackson Memorial Hospital for training, along with 23.5 percent of her class. That’s up from 21.5 percent last year.

Shaking with excitement, Marotta was equally pleased she had landed an OB-GYN residency, for which she joked her daughter’s difficult birth had well prepared her. “I know the patient’s perspective,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, my mom and my family, my friends and everybody here at the Miller School.”

Forty-three percent of the Class of 2013 – a 10 percent increase over last year – will be staying in Florida, but not Stefan Doig. After a preliminary medicine residency at the Miller School’s regional program in Palm Beach County, Doig, a Jamaican native who went to medical school after three years as a nurse, will head to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a dermatology residency. He confessed his first choice was to remain at UM, but he wasn’t complaining about having to “settle” for Johns Hopkins. “I think I can take the cold,” he said, surrounded by his proud mom, aunt and two buddies from college.

Two other classmates, Stephen Freiberg and Michael Keller, also landed residencies at Johns Hopkins, joining a parade of classmates heading to prestigious teaching hospitals across the nation, including those affiliated with Yale, Cornell, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Stanford, the University of California at San Francisco, Duke, and Emory, to name a few.

Two hours after it began, the joy ride concluded with Dean Goldschmidt handing the very last envelope to Danielle Kramer, who was even more elated about landing her first choice – an OB-GYN residency at Jackson – than winning the basket of $5 bills contributed by her classmates as a consolation prize for the person who had to endure the longest wait to learn their fate.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Kramer said, summing up the pervasive feeling under the tent. “I am so excited.”

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