An exceptional ‘Match’ for medical students

Match Day 2023 reveals where graduating students will do their residencies

Following a countdown reminiscent of New Year’s Eve, more than half the class of 168 graduating University of Cincinnati College of Medicine students tore into envelopes Friday, March 17, revealing their future: where they would do their residency training for the next several years.

As the song “Celebration” blared from loudspeakers, students jumped and screamed in joyous celebration, hugged one another and offered handshakes and congratulations while family and friends held cell phones high recording the moment.

For the next 90 minutes, a parade of students ran, walked and danced onto the Kresge Auditorium stage during the college’s Match Day celebration. Many clutched their unopened envelopes and waited to reveal where they matched in front of their class and guests and people watching a livestream of the event from all over the country.

A number had already opened their envelopes, but still came to the stage to happily announce their match. Most were accompanied by someone: boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, fiancés, moms, dads, siblings, nieces, nephews and friends. Several brought spouses and children while others gleefully announced upcoming weddings or reveled in marriages that just occurred.

“This is an absolutely amazing class,” Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean, said in welcoming everyone to the event. “Little did they know when they showed up here at the College of Medicine, within six months of their starting, they were sent home. The COVID pandemic hit, they worked through things, they stepped up, they went out into the community, they helped people, they did whatever they could to help everybody get through this.”

Filak reminded students they still have 36 days until Honors Day at Cincinnati’s Music Hall when they receive their diplomas and are officially done with medical school.

“Medical school is not easy to start with, but everything you went through, the resilience, the strength, the love that you showed for one another, how you helped everyone get through it,” Filak added. “You’re all going to be tremendous physicians and I am so proud of each and every one of you.”

woman jumping on stage

Medical student Wan Kwok jumps in excitement after opening her envelope during Match Day.

Filak drew Wan Kwok’s name at random as the lucky first person to come to the stage and announce their Match. Philip Diller, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for educational affairs, then selected Caroline Folz as the second person to come to the stage. Dawn Bragg, PhD, associate dean for student affairs, and Bruce Giffin, PhD, associate dean for medical education, took turns randomly drawing the rest of the names as each student came to the stage with their own selection of walk-up music.

Bragg was celebrating her first Match Day at the College of Medicine after joining the college last August. She said she enjoyed hearing the different walk-up songs each student selected, which added a personal and fun touch.

“I am always thrilled to watch our students receive their results. Watching their joy and exuberance reminds me that this day is the culmination of the hard work, commitment and sacrifices throughout the years,” Bragg said. “Their dreams of being able to care for their communities as physicians have become realities. The Medical Student Association M4 presidents and the Student Affairs team organized a well-run and well-attended celebration for the students, their families and friends.”

Kwok said a classmate had to tell her that she was the first student called to the stage as she did not hear the dean announce her name. Once she was aware, she ran to the stage not knowing where she would be going.

“There are very few true surprises in life. I love a good surprise and I have been watching Match Day since I was accepted to UC for medical school. The programs on my rank list were all wonderful and I knew I could be happy at any of them. I also wanted to share that joyful moment with my friends and family watching the livestream at home,” she said.

Kwok was ecstatic when she read University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) for her Match into psychiatry. She said she connected with the people at UIC the most and liked how their psychiatry program is committed to the underserved populations of Chicago. She is interested in inpatient psychiatry and specializing in women’s mental health.

“I went to undergrad in Chicago and have many friends and family who have settled there. My partner lives in Chicago as well. It’s my favorite city in the world and all throughout medical school I would visit at least once every two months. It’s a dream come true to have matched at UIC,” Kwok said.

Next to the stage was Folz, who afterward said it felt surreal to hear her name called.

“The application process for neurosurgery was a long one, and I felt humbled just to know I matched into the field. I figured, why not just find out live on stage. I was simply excited to become a neurosurgeon, and I had found many fantastic programs along the interview trail where I would receive excellent training and be part of a great community. I knew that I would be happy no matter what my letter said,” Folz said.

woman celebrating

Caroline Folz celebrates her match in neurosurgery to Duke University.

She was shocked and joyed to read “Duke University Medical Center,” which was her first choice.

“Match Day was fantastic. It was so special seeing my classmates actualize their dreams,” Folz says. ”The UCCOM student body is a collection of some pretty incredible individuals that I have had the privilege to watch succeed and grow over the last four years, and I loved cheering everyone on. I know I speak for my class when I say we would not be here without the support of our families, teachers and mentors, so to share Match Day with them was awesome. At UCCOM, we are also so lucky to have excellent faculty who help us along the way. I saw one of my own mentors right before opening my letter, and it meant so much to me to have had that continued support as a young neurosurgery hopeful four years ago all the way through Match Day.”

man hands envelope to woman

Matthew Frederickson hands his mother the envelope with his Match results.

Matthew Frederickson was joined on stage by his mother, Kim Frederickson, MD, a dermatologist in Northern California, who gave birth to him during her third year of medical school at the University of California, Davis, he explained to the audience. Frederickson also matched to the UC Davis orthopaedic surgery program.

“It was extremely special to have my mom there. It felt like things were really coming full circle. She has always been my biggest supporter and I felt like she deserved to be involved and giving her the honor of opening the envelope and being on stage also made it more special,” he said.

While UC Davis was not his first choice, Frederickson is still thrilled to be going to a residency that is close to his family and is a high-quality training program.

“My time at UCCOM was great. It was hard, especially to have preclinical education during the early pandemic, but I feel like I got a solid medical education. I’m spending my last rotation of medical school in emergency medicine, and it’s reminded me of why I’m so proud to be at UC: the standard of excellence in clinical education. Overall Match Day was a wild experience, underlined most by being surrounded by the people I love,” Frederickson said.

two people on stage

Maria Hooker and Nathan Lawera both matched in Cincinnati, Maria with Cincinnati Children's and Nathan with UC Medical Center.

Maria Hooker and Nathan Lawera were one of several couples matches. The pair are staying in Cincinnati, with Hooker doing her pediatrics residency at Cincinnati Children’s and Lawera beginning a plastic surgery residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“I am ecstatic,” Hooker said. “Cincinnati is such an incredible place and I feel so lucky that we get to spend the next few years together continuing to explore and enjoy. I grew up in Cincinnati going to Cincinnati Children’s, so it is so special that I get to learn how to be a pediatrician from the best. I have loved sharing Cincinnati with Nathan over the past four years, now I just get even more time to enjoy the place that I love with the person that I love.”

Lawera says that the pair selected many combinations of programs in the same city and even ranked a few that were not. But he called hearing that they would be in the same city “the best moment of the day.”

“I’ve watched other match day ceremonies in the past, and I think it’s such a unique opportunity to share the excitement of the next step while having a little suspense sprinkled in. It was nerve-racking for sure, but nothing can beat that moment of pure joy shared in front of everyone,” Lawera said.

After the final name was selected at random—Michael Valdivia, who is going to the University of California, Irvine for emergency medicine—almost 20 students who had opened their envelopes at the start of the ceremony came onto the stage to announce their matches. One was Adam Butler, who is staying at UC for physical medicine and rehabilitation.

man jumping

Adam Butler jumps for joy announcing his match to UC Medical Center.

“All I initially remember was an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement when I saw UC on my letter! I’ve dreamt about matching at UC PM&R for a very long time. I absolutely love the program, and they have played a huge role in shaping my path to becoming a physiatrist,” Butler said.

Butler came to the stage with his mom, Donna Bridges, and girlfriend, Emily Dougherty, and jumped up and down several times holding a sign saying he matched at UC.

“Having my mom and girlfriend on stage with me was incredibly special. They’ve been two of my biggest supporters throughout this entire journey, and I can confidently say that I wouldn't have made it this far without their constant love and support. Having them both by my side meant the world to me,” Butler says.

“Getting to celebrate Match Day with my close friends and family was an unforgettable experience and a great way to round out the last four years,” Butler continued. “I’m incredibly happy that I was able to attend UCCOM for medical school, and I know in my heart that UC is where I was meant to be for my medical training. I'm ecstatic that I get to spend at least four more years in Cincinnati!”

Forty-four students will stay in Cincinnati with 25 matching at UC Medical Center and nine at Cincinnati Children’s. Other top destinations were Case Western/University Hospitals (8), Ohio State University Medical Center (7) and Duke University Medical Center (6).

Nine of the 168 matching UC students matched into ophthalmology, urology and the military and received their results prior to Match Day. Six students matched in ophthalmology, two in urology and one in the U.S. Army.

The most common specialty selected by students was pediatrics (19 students, or 10.6%). After that, anesthesiology (17, 9.4%), internal medicine (16, 8.9%), internal medicine preliminary, emergency medicine and family medicine (each with 14, 7.8%), psychiatry (13, 7.2%) and internal medicine/pediatrics (8, 4.4%) followed as the most preferred specialties.

Seventy-six of the graduating students (42.4%) will remain in Ohio to do their postgraduate training. Other popular matching states were New York and Illinois (each with 10, 5.5%), North Carolina (8, 4.4%) and California (7, 3.9%).

UC Medical Center and the College of Medicine also had an exceptional Match filling 137 residency positions. Besides the UC College of Medicine, physicians will be coming from medical schools at such universities as Duke, Indiana, Ohio State, Chicago, Colorado, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin

Among the other prestigious programs UC students matched to were at: Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic, New York University, Ohio State University, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas Southwestern, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University.

A recording of the Match Day celebration can be viewed online.

Photos/Joseph Fuqua

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