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Perfect matches come up for Medical College of Georgia students

Friday, March 16, 2012 4:03 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 31, 2012 4:35 PM
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In a white gown she had worn as Miss Augusta, Ashley Foster dressed up Friday as Cinderella for Match Day at Georgia Health Sciences University. Like Cinderella, when she opened her envelope and saw she had been accepted to a pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins University, her dreams came true.

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Fourth-year medical students Courtney Gregg and Emily Landers hug during Match Day at Georgia Health Sciences University. On Match Day, celebrated at medical schools across the country, students find out where they will be spending their residencies.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Fourth-year medical students Courtney Gregg and Emily Landers hug during Match Day at Georgia Health Sciences University. On Match Day, celebrated at medical schools across the country, students find out where they will be spending their residencies.

“It’s a dream school,” said Foster, of Evans. “The perfect shoe matches Cinderella. I wanted the perfect match with a program.”

She wasn’t the only one getting her perfect match during the somewhat raucous Match Day party at the Medical College of Georgia at GHSU. Match Day is celebrated at medical schools across the country, when students who have ranked their preferences for residency programs find out whether their top choices matched with a preferred list from the programs. Students gathered in a packed auditorium are called to the front to get envelopes with their fate inside and the stress of finding out where they will spend the next several years in training was often punctuated by shouts of joy, relief and hugs.

Dressed as Batman, Michael Vaughan got a high-five from Robin – his wife, Angelyn – after learning he got his first choice and was heading to Memphis for his pediatric residency. The program has a lot of international opportunities and will make it easier for them to pursue their dream of becoming missionaries, he said.

“It just seemed like the perfect fit,” Vaughan said.

Match Day also was the culmination of another wish.

“He’s wanted to be Batman since he was about that big,” his wife said, holding her hand a couple of feet off the floor.

“If I wasn’t going to be a doctor, I’d be Batman,” Vaughan said.

For some, the choice wasn’t that deeply rooted. Dressed as Wonder Woman, Aditi Kalla beamed after learning she would be doing her residency in internal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“I needed to find somebody with dark hair,” she said of her costume.

Taking in the blasting music, dancing and cheering, GHSU President Ricardo Azziz hearkened back to his own Match Day years before, which was “somber,” he said.

“Everyone opened their envelopes at the same time,” he said. “This is so much better.”

In fact, MCG Dean Peter Buckley urged the students to cut loose a little bit.

“The goal is to degenerate years back into aberrant behaviors,” said Buckley, a psychiatrist. “You’re certainly well-dressed for those behaviors.”

Many of the programs across the country have similar parties, said Mona M. Signer, the executive director of the National Resident Matching Program, which coordinates the matches.

“I give those students a lot of credit for being able to have fun on a day that can be incredibly stressful,” she said.

It began at MCG with a flash mob of students rushing to the front to dance in somewhat synchronized fashion to Party Rock Anthem and was topped by Christi Hernandez and Emily Osborn, dressed as the White Swan and Black Swan, respectively, from the ballet Swan Lake, pirouetting and leaping in tandem on opposite aisles before dancing up to accept their envelopes. Hernandez was hugged and kissed by her mother and father, Dale and Rolando, after seeing she will be training in pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. It is a good program at Vanderbilt and “they have a great ballet studio there, too,” Hernandez said.

MATCHES ALL AROUND

This year saw the highest rate of U.S. medical school seniors finding a residency program to match with, the National Resident Matching Program announced Friday. Topping 95 percent was in part the result of more positions but also a better job by the schools of advising the students, said Executive Director Mona M. Signer.

“I think student advising has gotten sophisticated, the advisers are very good at picking out the students who are at risk of not matching and working with them to have a backup plan,” she said.


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