After four often-grueling years of medical school, more than 150 fourth-year students from the University of Colorado School of Medicine took the next step in their medical journey Friday.
At the annual Match Day ceremony in the new Anschutz Health Sciences Building on CU Anschutz Medical Campus, the soon-to-be graduates learned of their residency placements and where they will train in their chosen specialties starting this summer.
Tears, cheers, and squeals of joy filled the atrium as students opened the envelopes that revealed their residency locations. Many were able to celebrate the moment with friends and family members who attended the Match Day in person and via livestream.
“This is a very intense and critical point in your medical career,” John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, dean of the CU School of Medicine, told the students just before they opened their envelopes. “I know you all have worked really hard to get where you are today, but trust me, you’re going to be working even harder over the next few years.”
Some students will travel far from Colorado for their training; others will remain at the CU School of Medicine for the next chapter in their medical careers.
“We feel confident you’re well prepared for this next stage in your career, and we look forward to seeing what you accomplish,” Reilly said.
Preparing for the next step
Fourth-year student Stephanie Nwagwu, who grew up just blocks from campus in Aurora, was thrilled to learn that she will perform her OB/GYN residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland.
“I’ve been working for this since I was a little girl, and it feels like all of my hard work has not gone to waste,” she said. “I’m really excited, but I know there is going to be a lot of hard work to come.”
Jessica Hall, who grew up in Colorado, will stay relatively close to home at her residency in general surgery at the University of Utah, a program she chose for its location as well as its people.
“I really loved everybody that I interacted with there during the interview process,” she said. “I love the outdoors, and the outdoor access there is amazing. I see myself being really happy there, and I’m super excited.”
Freddi Tran, a fourth-year student who will do his residency at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, said he chose his specialty of emergency medicine because it allows him to make a difference in people’s lives.
“I’m really drawn to the chance to intervene in critical moments, and I also like that emergency medicine is the frontline connection to the community,” he said. “Anyone who comes into the emergency department has a reason to be there; they feel scared or worried, and it’s really very rewarding to help people in that moment of need.”
Support system critical for success
In addition to congratulating the students on their residency matches, speakers at the ceremony reminded them to express gratitude to the family and friends who have supported them on their journey thus far.
“Most importantly, make sure you thank all the people that got you here,” Reilly said. “Nobody makes it this far alone, so please be sure to recognize them.”
Amira del Pino-Jones, MD, assistant dean of student affairs, thanked students for the late nights they spent studying and their overall dedication to learning and growing.
“Thank you also for supporting each other through challenges and celebrating each other’s successes,” she said. “And thank you for the time you spent with patients — the time you took to listen to their stories and hold their hands.”
In his keynote address to the departing students, Brian Dwinnell, MD, associate dean of student life, acknowledged just how important Match Day is in the world of medicine.
“I can’t think of another profession that manages job recruitment in such a fashion,” he said “It’s important to emphasize that this is not just a job — this is the beginning of your next journey in your professional career.”
The Match Day ceremony was the first large-scale event held in the new Anschutz Health Sciences Building, a one-of-a-kind building for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Hundreds of patients will visit the 396,000-square-foot facility each week for clinical services and clinical research study participation. Intentionally designed as a collaborative, mixed-use space, the new building has a spacious, seven-story interior atrium, a data center, a large conference center, office and clinical spaces and meeting rooms and labs.