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Mayo Medical School students meet their match

So this is what it is like to have your fate contained in a single envelope. At exactly noon Friday, Mayo Medical School senior Sam Porter peeled back the flap of the light blue envelope and nervously scanned the letter, as his wife, Jess, looked on....

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Mayo Medical student Samuel Porter gets a kiss from his wife Jessica after opening his match letter during the Match Day luncheon at the Foundation House.
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So this is what it is like to have your fate contained in a single envelope.

At exactly noon Friday, Mayo Medical School senior Sam Porter peeled back the flap of the light blue envelope and nervously scanned the letter, as his wife, Jess, looked on. It took a few seconds to find what he was looking for, and when he did, a thrill surged through him.

"Yes!" Porter rejoiced, then showed the letter to his wife, who echoed his "Yes!"

Porter, 26, had just learned that he would spend a three-year medical residency at Via Christi in Wichita, Kan., studying family medicine. It also had been his No. 1 choice.

It was Match Day on Friday, as thousands of medical students across the nation, including 43 Mayo Medical students, learned their residency "match" and the medical programs they would head to as doctors after receiving their medical degrees in May. At exactly 12 p.m. to the minute, in a custom rigorously adhered to by medical schools, students simultaneously opened their envelopes.

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"My heart was literally in my stomach until I opened it," said Chika Nwachukwu, a Mayo Medical student who also learned that she had been matched to her first choice, in radiation-oncology at Stanford University. "I'm so happy!"

Indeed, if the shouts of joy were a little more jubilant and the celebration a little more raucous at Foundation House in Rochester than at similar venues across the nation, there was a reason for that. A hundred percent of Mayo's doctors-to-be had gotten matches. And of those, 75 percent received their No. 1 choice, and more than 90 percent were matched to one of their top choices, said Dr. Sherine Gabriel, dean of Mayo Medical School.

"There is nothing that makes me more excited than those numbers," Gabriel said.

Not all graduates of medical schools are guaranteed residencies. Last year, an estimated 500 American trained medical students did not get a match anywhere.

Medical residencies give young doctors in-depth training within a specific branch of training after learning a broad range of medical and clinical skills at medical school. The top specialty choices for Mayo medical students included internal medicine (18 percent), anesthesiology (14 percent), pediatrics (14 percent), and family medicine (12 percent).

It's called Match Day because the process involves matching the preferences of students with the choices of the programs. Before the climatic opening of envelopes, Mayo medical seniors spent the last year interviewing at medical programs across country, then ranking those programs in order of preference. Medical programs also did the same. A computer algorithm then makes the match.

Beside graduating from medical school, which is set for May 17, Match Day was the day students like Porter had been working toward the last four years. Porter was born in Illinois, but was raised in Beirut, Lebanon where his parents worked for charities. Inspired by the example of his parents, Porter knew he wanted to help those in need, but it wasn't until college that he decided he wanted to do it in the capacity of a doctor.

"My parents are basically my heroes," Porter said. "They are very influential in my life. Seeing them serve those needs, wherever they were, especially in the farthest, least developed places in the world, they really left a mark on me of wanting to follow in their footsteps."

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Mayo Medical student Daniel Kuo gets his match letter during the Match Day luncheon at the Foundation House.

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