UCSF Medical Students Celebrate First In-Person Match Day Since COVID Began
The excitement and emotions of the 2022 Match Day were heightened because the event at Koret Quad was the first time the entire class reconnected in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As students learned how and where they will spend the next 3-7 years for their residency, they reflected on their journeys in medical school and what they are looking to give back to their communities.
This year, 149 UCSF School of Medicine students matched into residency programs.
40 percent of the class, 59 students, were accepted to fields related to primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics. The other 60 percent matched in non-primary-care specialties, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and obstetrics & gynecology.
Seventy-six 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 sixteen other states across the country.
“It was great to see everyone and reflect on our time together. There have been a lot of challenges, but the entire class has grown a lot as well. It is exciting to be together to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments,” said Noor Amer Al-Alusi, who matched in internal medicine at UCSF.
“The COVID-19 pandemic influenced my decision to pursue internal medicine. While many of my friends were at home during the pandemic, it felt important for me to be in the hospital. It was special to have a role in caring for patients and serving my community during this health crisis,” said Al-Alusi.
Nuzhat Islam reflected on her medical school career, saying, “It’s been a long journey, but I had the support of the school, coaches, and friends.” Islam matched in internal medicine at University of California, San Diego, and was drawn to internal medicine because, “the people and culture felt like home.”
This Match Day was the first time in three years that students, along with UCSF School of Medicine leaders, close friends, family, and even a few pets, were able to gather to open envelopes that tell them where they will continue for their residency programs.
“It was so nice to be with everyone instead of being virtual, there was such a build-up of emotions which would be hard to capture on Zoom!” said Maria Castro, who will be doing her residency at UCSF.
Castro started medical school at UCSF planning to specialize in pediatrics but has decided to pursue general surgery. She said, “I love to talk to people, and surgery gives me the opportunity to connect with patients, quickly build trust, discuss their fears and goals, and make a difference in their lives.”
“Today was priceless. I am grateful that we could gather on Match Day for this event, it makes the celebration sweeter,” said Natalie Kucirek, who matched in orthopedic surgery at UCSF. Kucirek said, “I am thankful for the support throughout medical school from my mentors, peers, residents, parents, and friends.”
Kucirek reflected on her decision to pursue orthopedic surgery, “I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, but during medical school I became interested in orthopedic surgery because of the ability to help restore a patient’s quality of life by using the latest tools and doing something tangible with my hands.”
Before envelopes were opened, Associate Dean for Curriculum, John Davis, PhD, MD, gave the crowd an overview of UCSF’s 2022 Match Day statistics and praised the class for their “resilience amid the uncertainty and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Like thirty-five percent of her classmates, Annie Hu will continue her career as a resident at UCSF. For Hu, staying at UCSF was an easy decision. She said, “I knew UCSF was my top choice because in all of my interviews I kept comparing other programs to UCSF. Since my first year of medical school, I knew I wanted to pursue radiology at UCSF. UCSF Radiology is full of enthusiastic, knowledgeable people and I wanted to be a part of the group of people I trained with and worked with here at UCSF.”
This class of students had developed personal connections in the first two years of their medical school career prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but their last two years were heavily impacted by the pandemic. The class had started clinical rotations in January 2020, but due to pandemic restrictions from March to June, their clinical year was abbreviated.
Le Wen Chiu matched in dermatology at the University of New Mexico, “I chose dermatology because I love being in clinic, seeing lots of patients each day, and helping them by solving problems quickly.”
Chiu said, “Even though my interview was virtual, they were welcoming and enthusiastic about my career development. I got a warm and kind vibe.” Despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chiu was positive about the long-term effects on the practice of dermatology, saying, “with the increase of telehealth visits, COVID will likely have a positive influence on dermatology by advancing reach to patients.”
Alan Kong, who matched with UCLA in ophthalmology, had received his match results in early February since that specialty uses SF Match, an alternative application service with a different timeline. Kong was excited to join his classmates for UCSF’s Match Day event. He said, “It was incredible to get to share Match Day and to see everyone’s hard work pay off.”
Kong shared, “I chose ophthalmology because of the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with patients, develop rewarding research, and the chance to give someone their sight back.” Wearing a UCLA t-shirt, he said, “I am excited to move to Los Angeles, but still stay in the California sunshine!”
Sara Dsouza, who matched in Internal Medicine at University in New York City, said, “I was drawn to Internal medicine because I love a challenge, and for me internal medicine is the puzzle-solving specialty.” Dsouza looks forward to the opportunities for research and teaching that internal medicine affords and plans to pursue infectious disease research as part of her residency.