As the clock approaches 9 a.m, Friday, March 15, fourth-year University of Washington medical student Anisa Ibrahim awaits the sound of the gong with “a mixture of excitement and anxiety.” It’s the signal that will send her, along with fellow UW medical students gathered in the Health Sciences lobby, to the long tables of elegant purple-and-gold boxes containing their futures as beginning physicians.
Match Day, which takes place on the same day every year at medical schools across the nation, is when thousands of graduating medical students find out – at exactly the same time – where they will train as residents via the National Resident Matching Program.
This year, 222 senior UW medical students learned of their 2013 residency positions at simultaneous gatherings across the UW School of Medicine’s five-state WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), including Match Day celebrations in Seattle, Billings, Missoula, Spokane, Boise and Anchorage.
For Ibrahim, the anticipation builds as she waits with her husband and young daughter to learn where she will begin the path to fulfilling her dream of becoming a pediatrician. Originally from Somalia, Ibrahim is the oldest of five children and the first in her family to attend college. She moved to Seattle as a young child, completed her undergraduate education at UW, and hopes to match at Seattle Children’s, her first choice for residency.
“But I think I’d be happy anywhere,” she said with a big smile.
Moments later Ibrahim, mom to two young daughters, is clearly elated when she learns she will be starting her residency at Seattle Children’s.
“I am just thrilled,” she beamed.
UW medical student Seth Stratton said he’s quite happy with his second choice match at Northwestern University (his first choice was Vanderbilt). He’s the son of two UW faculty members: Dr. John Stratton, professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, and Carolyn-Webster Stratton, a child psychologist and professor emeritus of family and child nursing. Seth said he plans to go into internal medicine with an eventual focus in cardiology and pulmonary/critical care medicine.
“It a unique opportunity to experience a different medical culture at a different place,” he said, adding with a smile, “though my parents probably would’ve been happier if I’d decided I wanted to stay here.”
Ria Andrade, originally from Whittier, Calif., which she describes as “east of East L.A.,” applied only to family medicine community residency programs in southern California, because she’s eager to return to the region “where they’re doing the best at serving the populations I want to serve — the underserved and the undocumented.”
So Andrade and her husband of five years were delighted when she matched at her first choice for residency: Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
Estell Williams, the youngest of seven children and also the first in her family to go to college, also matched at her first choice: UW. She plans to become a surgeon and to continue her work to address the underrepresentation of minorities in medicine and healthcare disparities across populations.
Describing her emotions leading up to Match Day as “more excitement than anxiety,” Williams said she couldn’t be happier to have landed at UW.
“I feel at peace today,” she said. “I’ve worked hard for it – we all have.”
This year’s National Match is the largest in the history of the program. Read about some of the Match 2013 statistics nationwide.