Medical students rip open Match Day envelopes to reveal their futures

After years of preparation, Stanford medical students finally discover where they’ll be for the next phase of their education.

On Match Day, Jacob Rosenberg learned he will be doing a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Norbert von der Groeben

At exactly 9:05 a.m. today, Jacob Rosenberg, a soon-to-be Stanford medical school graduate, ran a finger across the envelope that held his future. He looked around the table at his friends and family, paused for dramatic effect, then ripped it open.

“Hah!” he laughed, throwing back his head. Then he turned a questioning eye to his friend and fellow student seated next to him, Lief Fenno, who had just opened his own envelope. The two grinned conspiratorially, jumped out of their seats for a quick high-five, and turned the letters around for the rest of the table to see.

It’s Match Day, the day each year when thousands of medical students across the United States gather at the same time — 9 a.m. for those on the West Coast — with family, friends, classmates and faculty to find out where they will spend the next three or more years of their lives as hospital residents.

Rosenberg and Fenno, who will leave the medical school as MD/PhDs, got great news. They matched with their first choices. Rosenberg is headed to Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, as a resident in internal medicine; Fenno will be a psychiatry resident at Stanford Medicine. 

Jorge Lucangeli hugs his girlfriend, medical student Christin Lepus, after she opens the envelope containing the information about where she'll be spending her residency.
Norbert von der Groeben

“It’s an end of an era,” Rosenberg said, referring to leaving Stanford after seven years of lab work and medical training. His parents, both of whom are physicians, grinned widely and paused to show off a photo on a smart phone of their son as a toddler holding a toy stethoscope to his baby sister’s chest. (That baby sister is a doctor now, too.)

‘Tremendously proud of you’

By 10 a.m., each of the 77 graduating medical students had their own stories to tell about where they would be going for residencies after the years of hard work and the nerve-wracking process of applying for residencies.

“We are all so tremendously proud of you,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, who introduced Charles Prober, MD, senior associate dean for medical education, to kick off the morning’s events at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

Prober talked of the early dog-eat-dog days when medical students scrambled willy-nilly for residencies. In 1952, the National Resident Matching Program, a nonprofit organization, was started in an effort to better coordinate the process. The group uses a computer algorithm to align the choices of the applicants with those of the residency programs.

Exciting and overwhelming

The entire process is both exciting and overwhelming, said a group of three students — Megan Solomon Gau, Evan Chen and Lily Du Yan — posing for photos with their acceptance letters in hand. They said they stuck together throughout the process as their own support group, which made this day all the more special for them.

Lloyd Minor, dean of the medical school, and Charles Prober, senior associate dean for medical education, talk during the Match Day ceremony March 18 at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.
Norbert von der Groeben

“It’s a surreal moment,” said Chen, who is headed to Massachusetts General Hospital for a residency in internal medicine. “Every year, Match Day happens, you wonder what it will be like when your day comes. It’s overwhelming. The process is very humbling.”

“I’m thrilled,” said Gau, who added that the process has been extremely stressful, much more so than the wedding she planned at the same time.

When tallied, the day’s final results showed that 75 percent of the students received their first choice of program, and 90 percent got one of their top three choices. The highest number of matches, 25, were to Stanford Medicine, followed by 19 matching to the Harvard University hospitals, and four to the University of California-San Francisco.



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