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2021 Match Day Highlights Resilience of UCSF Medical Students 

2021 Match Day

2021 Match Day

As the class of 2021 prepared to learn how and where they will spend the next 3-7 years for their residency programs, students were excited and reflective about the past several years of their medical school careers. This class of students has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – not only because of their experiences caring for patients, but also because of changes in the residency application process, which included virtual interviews only this year, cancellation of all away rotations, and the rescheduling of board exams.

Daniella Cordero
Daniella Cordero

“It’s bittersweet because it’s this nerve-wracking culmination of so many years of studying, tests, and days in the hospital and days studying, but it’s very exciting for myself and my loved ones,” said Vidhatha Reddy, who learned Friday that he will do his dermatology residency at UCSF.

Vidhatha Reddy
Vidhatha Reddy

“I decided to pursue dermatology because I was interested, from a sociological perspective, in how skin color impacts how people are treated in the world and the opportunities they have available to them,” said Reddy, who wanted to merge his passion for equity and social justice with clinical knowledge.

“For me, medical school has definitely had its challenges with both highs and lows,” Reddy said. “It was the first time I was confronted with death, not just from patients, but with the loss of a classmate and the loss of a family member.”

“I ranked UCSF #1 because I get the general sense that most people here are interested in becoming excellent clinicians, but on top of that they want to make the world better,” Reddy said.

Most years, students gather in person together, along with UCSF School of Medicine leaders and family and close friends to open their envelopes and pull out a piece of paper that tells them where they will go for their residency programs. This is the second year Match Day took place virtually at UCSF.

“This class of students faced a plethora of challenges due to the pandemic, but have demonstrated their resilience in the face of these hurdles,” said Associate Dean for Students Lee Jones, MD. “They will go on to be excellent and caring physicians who make the world a better place.” 

“During the past year, these students have had to navigate a lot of uncertainty and have had to be flexible in the face of changing policies and a changing process,” said Heather Whelan, MD, co-director of the School of Medicine’s Career Advising Program. “As difficult as it has been, I believe these experiences will serve students well as outstanding UCSF physicians.”

Because of COVID-19, all in-person away rotations – which normally give students the opportunity to spend time getting to know the people at residency programs across the country – were canceled, and all interviews were conducted online. 

While students saved money by not traveling across the country to check out different programs, they were faced with the challenge of making this life-altering decision without visiting the places where they might spend the next several years or meeting the people with whom they might work. In addition, students had to learn to skillfully navigate their interviews in a virtual environment, without in-person cues and reactions that could help them change their approach in real time. 

Miguel Millares
Miguel Millares

“[In these interviews] you’re trying to show people who you are through a computer screen,” said Miguel Millares, who matched at Yale’s neurosurgery department, his top choice. He appreciated the UCSF Student Resource Center, which helped him with practice interviews and getting his message across in a succinct way.

Kelechi Nwachuku also matched at his top choice, UCSF’s department of orthopedic surgery. 

Kelechi Nwachuku
Kelechi Nwachuku

“UCSF is multifaceted in doing research on health equity and leveling the playing field,” Nwachuku said. “They’re not only incredibly competent physicians, but also incredibly competent beings. They’re so humble, which sets the stage for a more conducive learning environment.”

Nwachuku, who grew up near skid row in South Central Los Angeles said he has witnessed a lot of brokenness in the world, and his life goal is to heal brokenness through medicine. “I realized orthopedic surgery most aligned with my interests because people often come in broken and leave rehabilitated and restored,” Nwachuku said.

“Fourth year is a time where we’re supposed to enjoy the friends we’ve made over the past few years and reminisce on our success, but I haven’t been able to see friends,” Nwachuku said. While the inability to commune together as a class and a family diminishes the mood of Match Day, it still feels monumental, Nwachuku said. “I still plan to commune with some friends who are vaccinated, do a personal zoom with family and close friends and share my screen as I open the match letter.”

Daniella Cordero, a medical student who matched in plastic surgery at her top choice called Match Day a “whirlwind.” She received an email at 9 a.m. telling her she had matched at the University of Washington and proceeded to celebrate with her friends and family, and then joined the class Zoom celebration at 9:30 a.m with School faculty and deans. Evolve Benton, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager on the Student Experience Team, deejayed the virtual Match Day celebration, creating a relaxed and celebratory vibe for this important milestone. 

Residency Match Outcomes

Match Day Infographic

This year, 171 graduating UCSF School of Medicine students matched into residency programs.  Sixty-four, or 37 percent of the class, were accepted to fields related to primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics, and the other 63 percent matched in non-primary care specialties, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and obstetrics & gynecology.

Sixty-three percent of the class will continue their medical education journeys in the Bay Area and across the state. The rest of the class will complete their training in leading hospitals in 18 other states across the country.

“I’m so excited for my class,” Cordero said. “We’ve been through a lot together and it makes me excited that this group of people will be the next group of physicians entering the workforce.”

Students Take to Social Media

Several students and groups shared their joy on Twitter: