Moments before the Drexel College of Medicine students graduating this spring learned where they will be residents next year, there was nervous energy bouncing around the Queen Lane Campus where they gathered March 17 to celebrate Match Day. There was a silent beat at noon when they opened their envelopes and learned what the future has in store, and then … wave after wave of screams, hugs, high fives and tears of joy.
After four years of hard work, this was the moment of truth, and the reactions showed it had paid off for these future doctors. After the lengthy interview process used by the National Resident Matching Program to pair students with residencies, emotions were running high.
“We spend a lot of time day-to-day just going through the daily grind, but in the end it becomes really worth it,” said Clarissa Chu, who got her bachelor’s in biology at Drexel and will be a resident at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children right here in Philadelphia. “It’s hard to believe it came here so quickly, but it’s a great feeling. It’s a lot of emotions all at once.”
Luck was in the air at the Student Activity Center. Dozens of students wore St. Patrick’s Day-themed College of Medicine T-shirts that said “Kiss Me, I Matched.” Others had shirts with matches on the front and a simple message: “It’s lit.” Some even dyed their celebratory champagne bright green to honor the occasion. Regardless of what they wore, they all got to share in the moment together.
For Andrew Shyu, who will be headed to Temple University Hospital for ophthalmology after a required transitional year at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, the mood in the room was something to behold.
“It’s unreal. Very surreal,” said Shyu. “I don’t think there’s anything that can really describe it.”
Chiemeka Onyima tried his best: “It feels like your insides are on fire, pretty much,” he said.
Onyima was inspired to pursue a career in medicine after spending time as a lifeguard and helping save lives in that role. Next year he’ll go to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he’s hoping to make an impact in his chosen field of anesthesiology and, eventually, in the political world as well.
“The anxiety leading up to it, all the interviews, all the work, all the dedication, for it to culminate in this is amazing,” said Onyima.
Just before the students learned where they would spend their residencies, Dan Benito, the Class of 2017 president, spoke briefly to the room.
“I can’t believe how fast this time went,” he said. “All of a sudden, we’re opening our envelopes and off to the next stage.”
In all, 260 College of Medicine students matched with residency programs to move toward that next stage, 92 of them with Pennsylvania hospitals. Thirty-five students will be going to New York; 31 to California; 15 to New Jersey; 12 to Maryland; nine to Connecticut; eight to Massachusetts; and six each to Illinois, Ohio and Rhode Island, among other destinations.
Sixty-one Drexel students will be heading off to work in internal medicine next year, more than any other field. Twenty-one will go into emergency medicine; 18 each into pediatrics and family medicine; 16 into anesthesia; and 15 each into general surgery and obstetrics/gynecology. The College of Medicine set a record for psychiatry (13) and physical medicine and rehabilitation (six) placements this year.