Medical students unseal their futures on Match Day

Nerves turn to celebration as Stanford School of Medicine students discover where they are headed for the final phase of their medical training.

- By Nina Bai

Jamasb Sayadi (wearing necktie), matched in neurosurgery at Stanford Medicine.
Steve Fisch

As the countdown clock ticked down, the Stanford School of Medicine class of 2024 milled about the Li Ka Shing Center with nervous energy — quite literally not knowing where they were going. Soon they would learn where they had matched for their residencies and which cities they would move to for the most advanced phase of their medical training. 

Around the country, graduating medical students engaged in the same Match Day ritual. After dozens of applications and months of interviews, students and residency programs submit their preferences to the National Resident Matching Program, which uses an algorithm to make the optimal matches. The results are unveiled on Match Day.  

[Read Match Day 101: How does the medical residency match work?]

“It’s such a privilege to recognize this incredibly distinguished class,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at Stanford University, offering a moment of reflection amid the excitement. “You bring such vibrancy, such intellectual rigor and passion to the work that you do, and that’s what makes it so meaningful for us as faculty and what makes our research and our patient care mission more meaningful as well.”

Not just MDs

In this year’s graduating class of 73 students, only 17 enrolled four years ago, in the early, uncertain months of the pandemic; 28 have been here for five years; and another 28 have called Stanford home for six years or more. Many will be collecting multiple degrees, including 15 MD-PhD students in the Medical Scientist Training Program. Altogether they matched in 20 specialties, ranging from orthopaedic surgery to psychiatry to radiation oncology.

Grace Li (in blue shirt) is headed to Boston for a residency in emergency medicine at Mass General Brigham.
Steve Fisch

Minutes before 9 a.m. Pacific time, each student was handed a sealed red envelope with their destination inside. Their family, friends and mentors gathered around. Everyone counted down the final seconds. After a brief pause of rustling paper, shouts of elation and relief filled the room.

“This is just a surreal feeling,” said Jamasb Sayadi, who matched in neurosurgery at Stanford Medicine. He was surrounded by close friends and family, including his brother and father, and his uncle on video call.

The moment represented years of dedication and sacrifice, especially for his parents, he said, who immigrated from Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution. He was inspired to go into neurosurgery after seeing his father’s transformation from deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, and after his mother’s death from glioblastoma in August.

Sayadi was grateful that he could continue working with his mentors at Stanford and stay close to his father and brother, who live in California. “It’s going to be the best possible outcome,” he said.

Grace Li, holding a large bouquet of flowers, learned she had matched in emergency medicine at Mass General Brigham, her first choice. Li said she was drawn to emergency medicine because it’s an opportunity to see patients from every walk of life and help them through enormously stressful moments.

Her entire family flew in from Texas, New York City and Boston to celebrate the first physician in the family. “I feel very, very lucky. Just being here on Match Day, surrounded by loved ones, is a dream come true,” she said. She thought about the journey ahead. “I’m going to need a winter coat.”

Sofia Essayan-Perez and Francisco Galdos matched as a couple at Stanford Medicine, Essaya-Perez as a pediatric neurologist and Galdos as a pediatric physician-scientist.
Steve Fisch

Sofia Essayan-Perez and Francisco Galdos met nearly 10 years ago during medical school interviews. “The funny things is, the first person I saw when I moved in was Sofia,” Galdos said.

Neighbors and lab partners

They had both been accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program and, by chance, were moving into adjacent apartment buildings. Then they were taking the same classes and working side by side dissecting the same cadaver in anatomy lab. Soon they were a couple — it didn’t hurt that Galdos always had a good sense of humor, even in anatomy lab, Essayan-Perez said — and have shared every milestone in their nine years at Stanford Medicine.

At Match Day, they made sure to open their envelopes and unfold their letters at exactly the same time. They were thrilled to be matched at Stanford Medicine, Essayan-Perez in pediatric neurology and Galdos in the pediatric physician-scientist program — which means they’ll be at Stanford for at least another five years.

“We’re really excited,” Essayan-Perez said. “We’ve had really amazing support from both of our fields as medical students, and it was the network of mentors that convinced us to stay.”

Galdos plans to continue his research on single ventricle heart defects, a condition in which children are born with part of the heart severely underdeveloped. His younger brother, Luis, died from the condition at age 8, when Galdos was 11. “He’s always been with me on this journey,” Galdos said. “He’s been my inspiration for my whole life.”

With a clear view of the road ahead, the students also took stock of how far they’ve come. “At the beginning of medical school, I remember thinking, ‘Will I still be this excited at the end?’” Galdos said. “Now I can say this path has just reaffirmed that excitement.”

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

2024 ISSUE 1

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