Residency Match Day returns to in-person celebration

a graphic showing UArizona match day placements

Match Day 2022 was a day of joy and a chance to celebrate in person at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and College of Medicine – Phoenix. On March 18, for the first time since 2019, both colleges held in-person Match Days.

people hugging

Aaron Masjedi is sandwich-hugged by his mother, Shiva Mahboob, and younger brother Eli Masjedi, after finding out he was matched with the University of Southern California during the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson 2022 Match Day event on the lawn west of Old Main.

Kris Hanning/University of Arizona Health Sciences

Match Day is the culmination of four years of study, research and rotations, and occurs on the third Friday in March nationwide. After ranking their residency program preferences, students are matched by the National Residency Matching Program.

"When I think of all of you, I think of one word: awesome. You are awesome because of your journey of education and success during a time of significant adversity," Dr. Guy L. Reed, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, said during the Phoenix ceremony. "When the pandemic threatened to turn your clinical training upside down, you persevered. You succeeded."

"On this day two years ago, we faced uncertainty and concern about an evolving pandemic we knew absolutely nothing about," Dr. Michael Abecassis, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, said during the Tucson ceremony. "Today, we face optimism fueled by dropping rates of infection and rising rates of immunity. Let us celebrate your resilience through this past year, which makes today even more special, and wish you success on the road ahead."

Dr. Katie Brite Hillis, interim senior associate dean of Undergraduate Medical Education and associate dean of clinical and competency-based education at the College of Medicine – Phoenix shared a similar sentiment.

Stephanie Christensen

Stephanie Christensen announces she matched in family medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego during the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix Match Day 2022 event.

Noelle Haro-Gomez/University of Arizona Health Sciences

"To me, you are the 'can do' class. You rise to challenges and continue working tirelessly toward your goals, regardless of the obstacles standing in your way," she said.

In Tucson, cheers erupted as 114 students tore open envelopes and embraced each other and their loved ones in celebration. In Phoenix, students, family and friends were treated to a dance performance by college staff, as well as a giant confetti drop.

"This is an emotional event where you get to know where you're going to spend the next many years of your life and fulfill your dreams of being a physician," said Dr. Kevin Moynahan, vice dean for education at the College of Medicine – Tucson.

Highlights of the College of Medicine – Tucson Match Day included:

  • 38.6% of the 114 matched students will remain in Arizona.
  • Students matched with 63 hospitals in 28 states.
  • 51.8% matched in primary care, and 48.2% matched in non-primary care specialties like emergency medicine, general surgery and psychiatry.

Highlights of the College of Medicine – Phoenix Match Day included:

  • 18 medical students will stay in Arizona for all years of residency.
  • Two additional students will complete their preliminary year in Arizona and then go elsewhere for their specialty.
  • Of those 20 Arizona students:
    • 11 matched at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.
    • One matched at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.
    • Four matched at Creighton University-affiliated hospitals.
    • Four matched at Abrazo, HonorHealth and Tucson Hospitals Medical Education.
    • 22 states were represented as the students head to their residencies.

Students from both colleges were matched to prestigious institutions including Emory University, Keesler Air Force Base, Mayo Clinic, Cedars-Sinai and UCLA Medical Center, as well as to both College of Medicine – Tucson and College of Medicine – Phoenix affiliations with Banner Health.

Music, war among motivators for students

College of Medicine – Tucson student Madina Jahed matched to a psychiatry residency at Stanford University. Jahed spent her early years in Afghanistan, moving to San Jose, California, with her family when she was 7 years old. She says her early memories of the Taliban regime played a part in her attraction to psychiatry.

"Growing up amongst war, I knew mental health really affected our physical health, so I wanted to dedicate my career to that," she said. "I wanted to address the mental and emotional needs of patients, because I saw it as something that was lacking in my own culture."

College of Medicine – Phoenix student Brandon Ngo was born and raised in Arizona. His parents, first-generation immigrants from Vietnam, always encouraged him to follow his dreams. That support led him to attend Duke University for his undergraduate degree.

Brandon Ngo and Pristine Mei

College of Medicine – Phoenix medical students Brandon Ngo and Pristine Mei celebrate their couples match to Oregon Health & Science University.

Courtesy of College of Medicine - Phoenix

He credits his parents, sisters, his significant other, Pristine, as well as his mentors for always being there through the good times and the bad. They inspired him to become the person he is today.

Ngo matched with Oregon Health & Science University where he will complete his residency in anesthesiology.

"I originally intended to become a biomedical or electrical engineer," Ngo said. "However, while volunteering to play piano for patients at Duke University Hospital, I found immense gratification in being able to connect with patients. Becoming a physician felt like the ideal profession for me. It would grant me the privilege to help others face-to-face and allow me to continue pursuing my interest in the sciences. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to become a physician."

"I was lucky to have discovered anesthesiology on an elective rotation late in my third year of medical school," Ngo added. "From getting the opportunity to use my hands doing procedures, to applying the chemistry and pharmacology, I loved being able to care for and protect patients during a critical time in their lives."

A version of this article originally appeared on the Health Sciences Connect website.

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