Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Crowned in a princess tiara with a pink tulle tutu around her waist, fourth-year medical student Stephanie Marshall takes one apprehensive breath in the ballroom of the Bolling Haxall House before tearing into a white envelope printed with her name. Beside her, fiancé Glenn Lee does the same. There is a moment of silence between the two in the clamorous ballroom, and then Marshall screams.
“We’re going to VCU!”
Along with Lee and Marshall, 192 fourth-year Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine students found out where they would spend the next three to five years as residents during Match Day on March 20. Held nationally on the third Friday in March, the event is the culmination of students’ medical school experience and sets the stage for the rest of their professional careers. To cut the inherent tension of the afternoon, some students dressed in costume for this year’s theme: “What would you be if you weren’t an M.D.?”
“It’s an opportunity for students to begin specialty training in the field of their choice and will oftentimes lead to contacts for future fellowships and careers in the community in which they’re completing their residency program,” said Christopher Woleben, M.D., associate dean of student affairs at VCU School of Medicine. For the past eight years, Woleben has handed the white envelopes to each graduating student. This is his ninth match day at VCU, since he attended his first as a student in 1997.
Both 26, Lee and Marshall met while attending VCU School of Medicine. Their first kiss was at the school’s annual winter ball in 2013 and their wedding will be on April 4. “We love it here,” Marshall said, adding that she will pursue obstetrics and gynecology, while Lee will study orthopedic surgery. “It’s the place that we met, so I think it’s a great place for us to start our new life.”
The couple was joined by 20 other VCU School of Medicine graduates who will complete their residency programs at VCU Medical Center, which enrolls 700 physicians-in-training, with about 225 new residents entering each year.
“We are very fortunate to have an academic medical center in Richmond,” said medical student Chris Ray, who has been the class of 2015 president for the past four years. “Developing future physicians is key in any community.”
Wearing a hot pink popped-collar polo shirt – he went as a “washed up B-list boy band member” – Ray was matched at his top choice, VCU, for internal medicine and pediatrics. He attended the event with his wife, mother, stepmother and father, who graduated from the VCU School of Medicine in 1976. Ray’s grandfather, Ed Ray, was the founding chair of the school’s Division of Pulmonary Disease, a position he held for more than 20 years.
“The people you train here are more likely to stay here,” Ray said. “Hopefully we’re training the doctors who in the future will take care of the same population.”
In addition to those staying at VCU, more than 150 members of the graduating class of 2015 will disperse to medical centers around the country, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Miami and Georgetown University. This year is the largest residency match of all time, with a total of 41,334 applications nationwide vying for 30,000 residency positions according to the National Resident Matching Program. The program uses a computer algorithm to optimize the matching of students with residency slots based on the preference of the students and the residency program hosts.
Manisha Magar was the last student called at the event, but she received a hat filled with dollar bills along with her envelope. As per tradition, each student puts a dollar in the hat as they enter the ballroom and the last person called wins all of the money for their patience. Magar was at the event with her husband, Nishant Parikh, whom she met at the hospital seven years ago while he was a medical student at VCU. The 30-year-old will complete her residency in anesthesiology at VCU, which was her top choice.
“This day represents our future,” Magar said. “We met here because of medical school and now we get to stay here.”
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