“So excited I had to fight back tears”: Stanford School of Medicine students celebrate the next phase in their journey toward becoming full-fledged physicians.
March 21, 2023 - By Emily Moskal
The air in the conference room was electric as final-year medical students waited to rip open the envelopes revealing where they would pursue their residencies. Students squirmed in their chairs and wringed their hands anxiously as the clock ticked down on one of the Stanford School of Medicine’s most iconic celebrations — Match Day.
On March 17, medical students nationwide found out simultaneously — 9 a.m. Pacific time — where they matched for their residencies and internships. That’s when the emails arrived and when students were permitted to open the envelopes. After interviewing during the fall, students presented their top choices for residency and internship programs to the National Resident Matching Program, a national nonprofit established in 1952, which uses an algorithm to match preferences of students to residency programs.
At the gathering, students hovered around St. Patrick’s Day-themed tables, draped in green. The future doctors held the red envelopes that would reveal their appointments.
Many students wondered what to look for in the coming years, when the clinical experience they gained as students would be put to practice. Eighty students matched in this year’s cohort and are set to begin their residencies in June.
“We’re all so proud of you for everything you’ve accomplished here during your time at Stanford,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, as the anticipation in the room built. “You’ve left an indelible effect on our community — please know that we’re always here for you and you’re always a part of the Stanford Medicine family.”
As his opening remarks concluded, the students clustered around tables where their academic advisors handed them their fateful envelopes. Some — unable to bear the suspense — gave them to family members to open.
At exactly 9 a.m., a palpable hush overtook the room as students ripped open their envelopes. Then came the cheers and hollers, ringing out across the hall as families and other loved ones swarmed the students with hugs and selfies.
Twenty minutes later, glasses were raised. It was time for a champagne toast to the next big adventure.
Looking forward, looking backward
Match Day is a reminder of all that the students have been through together, said Bianca Mulaney, a medical student at the ceremony. She remembers with humor the first blood draws her fellow students performed on one another.
“It’s funny to think about that moment from our first year of medical school and how far we’ve come,” Mulaney said. “How much more confident and comfortable we are in health care settings.”
Mulaney matched at Massachusetts General Hospital, her top choice after doing an away rotation there. Boston is where she and her husband, a Stanford medical student with one year to go, met 10 years ago. She’s excited to return to the East Coast, where he hopes to join her a year from now.
“I simultaneously feel ready to move on and not ready to leave, but I’m looking forward to truly learning to be a doctor,” Mulaney said.
Since overcoming the initial “ick” of drawing blood, Mulaney matched in vascular surgery, a specialty with a focus on heart and blood flow conditions. She’s particularly interested in peripheral artery disease, an accumulation of fats and cholesterol in the arteries, because it affects more than 25% of men aged 80 or older and has a significant impact on quality of life, she said.
Adrian Delgado, a first-generation high school graduate, can’t wait to work exclusively with children with a greater sense of responsibility than what he had as a medical student.
“There’s a certain level of responsibility that you get once you start residency that you don’t get when you’re a medical student, and I’m ready for it,” Delgado said. “I’ve been ready for a while.”
He matched in pediatrics at Stanford Medicine, also his top choice.
“I’m so excited that I had to fight back tears,” Delgado said. “This place and the people here have done a lot for me. I’m happy to continue working with the people here and give back as much as I possibly can.”
He has wanted to be a pediatrician since he was 7, when his older brother, who loved kids, died in a car accident. He thinks he may specialize further as a pediatric cardiologist.
“It’s really complicated plumbing, which I think is an appealing challenge,” he said.
‘Stanford set me up’
Erin McShane, who spent her undergraduate years in the U.S. Naval Academy, matched at the San Diego Naval Hospital in obstetrics and gynecology for the first internship year. Afterward, she’ll have the opportunity to do a medical officer tour with the U.S. Navy where she would support active-duty forces before resuming her clinical training.
McShane is excited to care for women in the military. They often face a tough battle balancing their health and career goals, she said, such as deciding to have a baby when you’re ready to deploy.
“With OB/GYN, you get to know your patients over a long period of time and support them through different phases of life,” McShane said. “You also have the surgical problem-solving and teamwork. Those are all things that I find enjoyable and rewarding.”
McShane and Mulaney look forward to learning new procedures during their residences.
“Vascular surgeries range from large, open surgeries to technical, minimally invasive interventions,” Mulaney said. “As someone who’s especially interested in surgery, choosing a residency that captures this wide variety was paramount.”
Many students were grateful to Stanford Medicine for the preparation they needed to obtain the residencies of their choice.
“The clinical training that we get at Stanford is top-tier,” McShane said. “I’m excited to build on that in my residency. Stanford set me up to place at my top residency choice.”
About Stanford Medicine
Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu.