Aided by lucky charms on this sunny St. Patrick’s Day, 165 members of the OHSU School of Medicine’s M.D. Class of 2023 participating in the match awaited their professional fates with nervous anticipation.
At Oregon Health & Science University and every other medical school across the United States, today is Match Day, a highly anticipated event where most fourth-year medical students learn where their futures as physicians will take them. The annual event is how students find out where they’ll continue their medical education as resident-physicians after they graduate this spring.
Students greeted each other with hugs. They clutched coffee cups. They stood in anxious clusters as the Robertson Life Sciences Building atrium filled with family, friends, faculty and staff members.
Led by M.D. Student Affairs Assistant Deans Benjamin Schneider, M.D., and Rebecca Cantone, M.D., the 2023 Match Day ceremony kicked off around 8:25 a.m. with an acknowledgment of the Native peoples on whose land OHSU is built.
“A land acknowledgement allows an institution to recognize how its creation has impacted the Native American tribes of the area, as many tribes face hardships due to the injustices that have been thrust upon them,” said Maya Singh Sharkey, member of the M.D. Class of 2026, current secretary of the OHSU Chapter of the Association of Native American Medical Students, and a citizen of Cherokee Nation. “We would like to thank OHSU not only for recognizing this fact, but also for their continued action in supporting the Native American community.”
Schneider’s remarks emphasized the complex path ahead for the soon-to-be resident-physicians: “Medical education is a transformative experience. Each individual’s path in medicine is unique, but there are common milestones. Some are joyous, like the first time you deliver a baby. Some are heartbreaking, like the first time you have to deliver devastating news. Today’s milestone, Match Day, is a time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and to look ahead to the next phase of your training.”
In her closing remarks, Cantone brought the students full circle, reminding them of their white coat ceremony at the start of their medical school journey: “Over the last four years, each of you has put in the work to be the doctor you came here to become. Wherever you will be continuing your training, you are so much closer to that dream today than when you first donned that crisp white coat.”
At exactly 9 a.m. Pacific Time, students tore open their match envelopes, in keeping with a long-standing tradition that unfolded at the same exact moment at medical schools around the country.
Cheers, joyful shouts and tears of gratitude and relief erupted across the room. Family and friends hugged the students in congratulations.
The luck of the Irish held when the students participating in the match posted a 100% match rate, with all 165 eligible students matching to a residency program.
Students matched in 28 specialties in 32 different states, with 36% of students matching to institutions in Oregon.
That’s good news for Oregon’s physician workforce. More than 70% of physicians who completed medical school and residency training in Oregon have stayed in Oregon to practice, according to the most recent physician workforce data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Close to half of students who matched — 44% — are entering primary care specialties, including internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics.
To match students to their residency program of choice, the National Resident Matching Program, or NRMP, uses a mathematical algorithm to place applicants into residency and fellowship positions at programs which also prefer them.
How does it work?
Training programs create a rank list of their desired applicants. Applicants create a rank list of their desired training programs. The match is determined by an algorithm that sorts through each medical student’s list of residency programs they’d like to attend and aligns their preferences with the student chosen by the directors of residency programs.
“I am so very pleased and proud that OHSU YourMD, the name of our M.D. program, has a 100% match again this year!” said Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for undergraduate medical education, OHSU School of Medicine. “This is a testament to the hard work and high caliber of our students, and the superb effort of our OASIS Career Advising team, led by Dr. Benjamin Schneider. This is the largest graduating class we’ve ever had in our program, and in today’s extremely competitive and complex match landscape, this outcome is simply outstanding.”
OHSU School of Medicine Dean David Jacoby, M.D., reflected on the match: “Being admitted to medical school and then starting classes and donning your white coat for the first time are big moments. But there is really nothing like Match Day. It is the culmination of intense effort and sacrifice, and the moment when you no longer have to imagine, but in fact know for certain, where you will continue your journey in the practice of medicine. And for me, as dean and as director of the M.D./Ph.D. program, there is nothing like being there on Match Day to see our students discover where their paths will take them.”
In addition to learning their match, many students — more than 87% of the class — are marking just one more week of medical school. Because of the M.D. program’s time-variable, competency-based curriculum, the majority of fourth-year students complete their graduation requirements a term early. Most residency training programs begin in July.
This year, 31% of the M.D. students are staying at OHSU for their residency programs.
OHSU’s 24 residency programs that participate in the NRMP match also posted a 100% match rate, with 205 trainees filling 205 slots — the largest match ever for Graduate Medical Education, which oversees residency and fellowship programs at OHSU.
The dual 100% match rates are indicators of the OHSU School of Medicine’s strong reputation nationally.
Match Day also signals students’ transition to alumni status, as many students close out their formal schooling over the next week and look ahead to residency training and practice as physicians. Craig Swinyard, senior director for alumni engagement, OHSU Foundation, welcomed them to the alumni community.
“You made it to this moment,” said Swinyard. “I know that wasn’t easy. So for a moment, right now, take a moment to let this sink in. All of the hours and effort you put into high school and undergrad and the application process and these last four years. You did this, and you should be very, very proud.”
He added, “Being an OHSU alum means that you answer the call when someone needs your guidance, your perspective, your encouragement. Even in these coming months, I want you to think about how you might encourage a third-year M.D. student as they anticipate their last year of med school. We’re all only successful because of the community who supports us. Congratulations, M.D. Class of 2023!”
Below, get to know two students who matched today.
For student Alexandra Levin, M.P.H., t’s a dream come true: She matched with the joint OHSU-Sky Lakes Cascades East Family Medicine Residency Program in Klamath Falls.
“I’m thrilled to be going to a program that fits me so well and will train me to be a true, full-spectrum rural family physician,” she said. “I’m feeling elation, joy, and excitement.”
She added, “I decided I wanted to go to medical school almost nine years ago to this day. Today is the culmination of many years of hard work.”
Levin enjoys working in rural areas, and after volunteering at a federally qualified health center prior to medical school and seeing family doctors in action, she knew that rural family medicine was for her.
At OHSU, she became a student leader in the Family Medicine Student Interest Group, organized lunch talks, and joined the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians as a student director.
In summer 2021, Levin — who is the first person in her family to go to medical school — spent three months on rural rotation at the Cascades East Family Medicine Center. She immediately felt at home in the small town surrounded by sagebrush and grasslands, pine forests and distant mountains.
There, she met people from the Cascades East Family Medicine Residency Program and was accepted into the Oregon Family medicine Integrated Rural Student Training, or FIRST program, which improves residency readiness for students entering rural family medicine training.
Levin moved to Klamath Falls to finish her last year of medical school, soaking up every available opportunity, including completing wilderness medicine training near Crater Lake National Park.
After residency, Levin hopes to practice family medicine in rural Oregon or New Mexico.
Student Anna Ayala is thrilled to be paired with University of California San Francisco’s-PLUS Pediatrics Residency Program, which emphasizes developing pediatric leadership for health equity.
“I am truly elated and feeling so grateful for the mentorship that I have received,” Ayala said. “I owe so much to Dr. Emily Carter at OHSU, and my family and friends! Matching makes me feel like I have found my place in medicine. Finding a program that reflects my values and that has seen something in me feels indescribable.”
Ayala’s goal after completing her residency training, she said, is to work with underserved communities and care for young patients in an urban area.
Originally from Sacramento, California, Ayala was drawn to the pediatrics specialty early on in her rotations as a medical student.
“Pediatrics is one of the very rare manifestations of what love and care can do,” Ayala explained. “Everyone is willing to do whatever it takes for a young patient’s well-being. It fills your cup every day.”
Ayala is also passionate about advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. As an undergraduate biochemistry student at Willamette University in Salem, she took a restorative justice class with inmates at Oregon State Penitentiary, learning how institutions traditionally described as beneficial to society can also cause harm. Just as inmates and their families face many hardships, she said she now realizes that some ways in which health care is delivered can have negative impacts.
“I’m still learning how to use my privilege to empower others and do what’s right,” Ayala said, adding she will use that privilege to help her patients, as well.
The 100% match rate includes Post-SOAP (NRMP’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) Match Rate.
Franny White contributed to this report.