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Journeys, Representation, and Coming Home: Reflections from UCSF Match Day 2023

 |  By Michelle Bui
UCSF Medical Students and their families, friends, and colleagues gathered in Koret Quad for Match Day 2023.

UCSF Medical Students and their families, friends, and colleagues gathered in Koret Quad for Match Day 2023.

On a brisk Friday morning, the sound of envelopes ripping open and shouts of joy could be heard from Koret Quad on UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in San Francisco. Serendipitously falling on St. Patrick’s Day, this year’s Match Day celebrated 184 soon-to-be UCSF graduates, as they found out where they would be continuing their medical training journey in residency.  

This year, two-thirds of students matched into residency programs in the state of California, with one-third of students matching at UCSF. A quarter matched into Internal Medicine; 37% matched into primary care specialties; and 30% matched into surgical specialties. 

UCSF School of Medicine Match Day 2023 Infographic

The event gathered families and friends from near and far, with students who have spent anywhere from a few years to close to a decade at UCSF. While some students pursued the four-year MD track, others were a part of programs such as the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP) or the Medical Student Training Program (MSTP), which require a variable number of additional years depending on other degrees students pursue.  

"I’ve been working towards this moment since the beginning of college, so it’s really exciting to have this day where it all comes to fruition,” said Kiana Nguyen, who matched into Anesthesiology at her number one choice, Stanford.  

For students in the MSTP program, this day also meant closing a chapter on the many years of working towards both their MD and PhD at UCSF – many completing their pre-clinical training before heading off into their respective PhD programs, and then returning afterwards to complete clinical rotations and MD graduate requirements. “As an MSTP student, I’ve been here for a very long time, and to finally transition to the next stage of my career means a ton to me. Very surreal and could not be happier,” said Jonathan Schor, who matched into Child Neurology at Stanford. 

In remembering the journeys that led to their dreams coming true, UCSF medical students also showed appreciation towards their support systems. Joseph Kidane, who matched into Otolaryngology at the University of Southern California, said, “It’s a culmination of all the hard work and dedication leading up to this point. Matching into otolaryngology isn’t easy. I’m very appreciative and thankful to all of my mentors, my family, my friends. I’m really excited to go into otolaryngology—that’s kind of crazy to say out loud!” 

At the same time, this day highlighted the triumphs of students who came from backgrounds that have been historically disadvantaged or underrepresented in medicine. A significant proportion of UCSF School of Medicine students come from backgrounds considered underrepresented in medicine (UIM). Notably, 54% of students matriculating this past fall identified as UIM.   

Carina De la Cueva was a part of the JMP and matched into Urology at Stanford. As part of the JMP, Carina completed a five-year program with courses at both UC Berkeley and UCSF that included earning her MD and a masters. She said, “For me, it feels like such a great milestone. I’m the first in my family to go into medicine, I’m the first in my family to go to college, so I’m very much an overall first gen student. And it means a lot to me because I feel like I found the environment that’s going to help me grow and the field that’s going to help me make the biggest difference for patients and their care.”  

While many students matched to top residency programs, for some, matching brings them home to their own communities, whether that’s staying at UCSF or at various institutions across the country.  

Sravani Kondapavulur, who matched into Neurosurgery at UCSF, kept an open mind during the residency interview process but found herself drawn to the Bay Area, where she calls home. “I always came back to, this is home, this is where everyone’s taught me, this is where opportunities for me seem to align, and I’m incredibly grateful that they gave me the chance to be here.”  

While many students matched into programs in the state of California, Idara Akpandak gladly matched into Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University, located in her home state of Maryland. Ophthalmology is part of the early match, and thus matches students in February. However, many students still come to Match Day to share in this pivotal moment with their peers. Idara said, “This means so much to me. I am so excited to be going into this field. I have such wonderful mentors in this field, and it means a lot to me following in their footsteps. I feel really supported by my peers here, this institution, and so this day all culminating in this happy result is a beautiful thing. I’m also excited to be going to Hopkins because I’m from Maryland, so I’ll be going back home and that’s really nice.” 

At a Match Day celebration held simultaneously at UCSF Fresno, Amitoj Singh, a member of the first cohort of the UCSF SJV PRIME program, learned he matched into Psychiatry at UCSF Fresno. Singh said, “I am feeling really excited, really blessed to have matched at UCSF Fresno and to get to stay here and help the community that shaped who I am.”  

Singh is part of the first cohort of UCSF students who will graduate from the SJV PRIME program, a tailored track for UCSF medical students who are committed to ensuring high-quality, diverse, and well distributed medical care to improve health for populations, communities, and individuals in the San Joaquin Valley.  

Brandon Yan, who was born and raised in San Francisco, matched into Internal Medicine at UCSF. While he considered other geographical locations for his residency, he had developed strong ties to the community that made UCSF his top choice for his next stage of training. “This is incredibly meaningful for me. [San Francisco] is where I first wanted to become a doctor, it’s where I’ve trained, it’s the community that I’ve always wanted to serve. I mean it’s given me so much, and to get to stay and be able to continue learning and taking care of people in my own community and people from all walks of life and across the world who come here for care is an incredible feeling. I’m so grateful for the extraordinary mentors, my family, friends, colleagues who have made this moment possible.” 

Kiana Nguyen, UCSF Medical Student
Kiana Nguyen matched into Anesthesiology


Jonathan Schor
Jonathan Schor matched into Child Neurology


Joseph Kidane
Joseph Kidane matched into Otolaryngology


Carina De la Cueva
Carina De la Cueva matched into Urology


Sravani Kondapavulur
Sravani Kondapavulur matched into Neurosurgery


Idara Akpandak
Idara Akpandak matched into Opthalmology


Amitoj Singh
Amitoj Singh matched into Psychiatry


Brandon Yan
Brandon Yan matched into Internal Medicine


Mason Lai and Abdikarin Abdullahi
Mason Lai (left) and Abdikarin Abdullahi both matched into Internal Medicine