March Madness: GW Students Find Out Residency Match

Excited. Nervous. Hopeful. A little overwhelmed. That’s how Diana Lee described her emotions on March 16 as the clock slowly ticked toward noon, when medical students across the country discovered where their residency training would begin.

“It’s crazy to see us all here at the end of the finish line, with friends and family all together to share the moment,” said Lee, a George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ (SMHS) fourth-year medical student. Lee received the Eugene B. Casey Scholarship Fund, which provides a four-year scholarship for tuition, room, and board.

A nervous excitement pulsated through GW’s Ross Hall as Lee entered Room 101, an auditorium-style classroom, until finally, as the countdown began, the noise became deafening. Students used gold letter openers, donated by the SMHS Office of Development and Alumni Relations, to rip open their white envelopes.

Tears sprung to Lee’s eyes as she took in the words on the piece of paper, her boyfriend looking on over her shoulder. She cried out with joy, and he pulled her into his arms. She got into her No. 1 choice: an internal medicine residency at the New York University School of Medicine.

“I’m so excited, I can’t believe it,” she said. “The people there were amazing, everyone was so passionate about medicine and the work they do; I’m so thankful to get to be a part of that.”

Match Day, said MD student Merrick Tan, marks a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for him it was one that did not disappoint. Surrounded by his four siblings – he’s the middle child of five – and his mom, who flew to Washington, D.C., from Northern California, Tan opened his letter and learned that he’ll be returning home to the West Coast to become an anesthesiology resident at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

"Family and balance have always been very important to me. My family keeps me grounded and reminds me that being a doctor is just one of the many blessings I have," said Tan, who was an Adopt-a-Doc scholar and earned a Boone Memorial Fund Scholarship.

For Jenny Dave, it won’t be a far journey to start her internal medicine residency: She matched with GW. It was my number one choice,” she said excitedly. “[A]ll of my friends and family are here, so I really couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.”

Dave isn’t a complete stranger to the chaos of Match Day; her sister, Rina, is a GW SMHS alumna who matched in family medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but this was an experience uniquely her own.

Before the envelopes were opened, Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs at GW, and dean of SMHS, spoke to the crowd, thanking friends and family members for being there, some of whom traveled from as far as Hong Kong to support the soon-to-be graduates.

Akman also thanked the students for their commitment and hard work.

“[Y]ou inspire us every day, we’re so proud of you, we’re thrilled you’ve made it to this point, and we’re excited about your futures and where today will lead you,” he said. “So good luck, I hope … that wherever you end up in terms of matching for your residency, you stay in touch with us and stay connected and make us proud.”

The Class of 2018 matched at institutions including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Yale New Haven Hospital, Stanford School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Fourteen students will continue their training at GW, and two will train at Children’s National Health System.