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The Luck of Match Day: St. Patrick's Day Brings Happy News to the Class of 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

It was a day filled with anxiety and excitement at Baltimore’s famed Hippodrome Theater when Match Day was held for the Class of 2017 of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. At exactly noon, medical students here and around the country receive an envelope telling them where they will do their residency training.

This year’s students include Jessica Chaffkin. As a medical student, she has been very active fighting for social and racial justice in Baltimore and around the country, and was also active in the group White Coats for Black Lives. She plans to go into forensic psychiatry, treating prisoners and evaluating people in the court system. Her first choice was to match at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut in psychiatry – and that was exactly where she matched. “I am definitely ecstatic,” she said. “I was really hoping that that’s where I would end up, and my dream has come true.”

James Van Meerbeke and his wife Sara hoped to match somewhere close to each other. They were married two years before medical school, and at some points during school, they spent about 22 hours a day together. “Thankfully we like each other,” he says. They just had a baby, and James is a stay-at-home dad, while his wife works through a rotation. They came up on stage together with their baby, and were extremely happy to find out that they had both matched at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – he in emergency medicine and she in internal medicine.

Some members of the class have already traveled far and wide for their career. After her second year of medical school, Crystal Bae took a year off to work in Africa. She spent a year in South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda and Botswana, helping doctors there improve emergency medicine training. She plans to specialize in emergency medicine, and may decide to work in global health too. She was matched to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, in emergency medicine.

Sheila Razdan has also traveled. Born and raised in Baltimore County, she took a year off from medical school to get a Master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She visited Ecuador, and focused on child health in Baltimore, working with newborns born addicted to opioids. She will specialize in pediatrics and wants to continue working in child and public health. She matched to St. Louis Children’s Hospital in pediatrics.

Carlos Salgado emigrated from Ecuador 10 years ago to go to college in the US. He now shares an apartment with his brother, who is a first-year medical student at Maryland. He was matched at Johns Hopkins Hospital in pediatrics.

Megan Halliday is going into emergency medicine. “I like the immediacy of it,” she says. She went through the military match, and knew ahead of time that she would be sent to a naval medical facility in Portsmouth Virginia. She took this route because it gave her the opportunity to work with military personnel as well as the opportunity to travel. Although she already knew where she was going, she said she was extremely nervous, mostly because she wanted her friends to get their choices. “This has been a really emotional day,” she said. “I’m so happy for everyone.”

Donique Cross is going into family medicine. Her husband, Stephen Cross, also just graduated, from the University of Maryland Dental School; they hope to be matched relatively near each other, somewhere along the eastern seaboard. She matched to the University of Pennsylvania in family medicine Stephen was matched at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center in New York City for a general practice dental residency.

Every student selected their own soundtrack for their walk to the stage. Many students danced their way up, to applause. This year, 155 UM SOM students matched at 30 different hospitals in 17 states. Thirty-five members of the Class of 2017 will stay in the state of Maryland for their residency training; last year, the number was 56.

Nationwide, more than 41,000 U.S. and international students applied for one of the approximately 30,000 first-year residency positions offered in this year’s Main Residency Match, according to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). Even though more students than ever are enrolling in medical schools, the United States is still facing a significant physician shortage, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.




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