By Laura Otto
In the minutes leading up to Match Day, Alex Sims, a fourth-year medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was a mixed bag of emotions—nervous about possibly matching with a residency program far from her family, sad to leave the place she has called home for the past four years and, more importantly, excited for her future.
“I have come to Match Day every year, and I can’t believe that it’s finally my turn to do this,” Ms. Sims said. “It’s a surreal experience.”
Held the third Friday of March each year, Match Day is when thousands of medical students across the nation open envelopes revealing where they will go for residency.
“Match Day is a phenomenal day in the life of a medical student,” said Jeffrey S. Akman, vice president for health affairs and the dean of SMHS. “Our students match with some of the leading medical institutions in the country, including GW, in every specialty that you can imagine.”
As noon neared, SMHS students filled Ross Hall to celebrate this major milestone with their families, friends and faculty members.
Cheers, tears, hugs and laughter followed as the students simultaneously received and opened their envelopes from the National Residency Matching Program, a nonprofit corporation established to provide a uniform date of appointment to positions in graduate medical education in the United States. SMHS students were part of the nearly 16,000 medical students nationwide who found out where they will spend the next three to five years of their graduate medical education, fulfilling their residency requirements.
Fighting back tears, Ms. Sims opened her letter.
“I feel so lucky to get my first choice,” said Ms. Sims, who matched in pediatrics-primary care at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It’s amazing to have this moment surrounded by great people and a supportive family.”
Across the room, Siobhan Hartigan and Christal Achille, both fourth-year medical students at SMHS, couldn’t stop smiling after being matched. Best friends since middle school, Ms. Hartigan and Ms. Achille have always been there for each other.
“It means a lot to me to have someone I know from home be by my side as I go through this process,” Ms. Achille said. The friends will be apart for the first time in years, as Ms. Achille, a Long Island, N.Y., native, is going back home to Stony Brook University Hospital where she matched in pediatrics. Ms. Hartigan matched in urology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“It’s the most exciting day every year at the medical school,” said Scott Schroth, associate dean for administration at SMHS. “Today is about the whole GW family—medical students, staff, faculty and alumni—coming together to celebrate.”
For Linda Ojo, a fourth-year medical student at SMHS and mother of two, matching in psychiatry at GW was a dream come true.
“There is nothing like opening up that envelope and seeing your first choice in print,” she said. “My family and I have been on this long journey together, and it’s amazing to see it finally come to fruition.”
GW students matched to hospitals across the country, including: Duke University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Boston University Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Northwestern University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Thirteen students will continue their training at GW.
See a complete list of this year’s SMHS Match Day schools.