The envelopes are sealed, awaiting eager hands. These hands may one day deliver a baby, set a broken arm or perform life-saving surgery. These hands will comfort and console. They belong to the next generation of doctors.
For now though, they are the hands of medical students, a few months away from completing their four years of medical school education. The envelopes they hope to get contain the future, a letter that states where each medical student will complete her next phase of training.
At precisely noon ET, on the third Friday of every March, the opening of the envelopes begins, as family and friends gather round. All those waiting feel a mix of emotions, as excitement and eagerness fill the room.
It’s Match Day.
A longtime tradition, Match Day is the day medical students learn which program they have been “matched” to for their advanced training, also called residency. Every doctor in the United States must complete residency in order to practice medicine, and the length of the training varies. At the Department of Neurosurgery at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the residency program, directed by neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Bruce, requires young neurosurgeons to complete seven years of advanced training.
This year, Match Day was held on Friday, March 16. For months leading up to Match Day, students spend significant time interviewing at numerous hospitals, sometimes flying across the country to do so. When interviews are complete, students rank which residency programs they believe are the best fit for them. The programs also rank the medical students they interviewed. An algorithm then matches students with residency programs, hence the name Match Day.
Per Match Day tradition, a ceremony is often held with family, friends and school officials. Each medical school has its own variation on the ceremony. For example, some may have a table stacked with envelopes. When the clock strikes, students rush to the table to grab and open theirs. Others may have each student walk up to the front of an auditorium to open—and read—his or her letter in front of everyone. Talk about nerve-racking!
Our tradition is to lay envelopes on a table. Columbia medical students then grab and open the envelopes when the moment arrives. This year was no exception. Cries of joy and camera flashes filled Bard Hall as students found out their futures.
Welcome Anna, Evan, and Zachary to our program!
“The competition for a Columbia neurosurgery training position is intense, as more than 200 applicants applied for the three intern positions we offered this year,” says Dr. Bruce. “We have great expectations for our new interns, who we know will become great neurosurgeons and will make significant contributions to our specialty. We look forward to having them join our clinical team and provide high-level care for our patients.”
No matter the style of ceremony, Match Day is a pivotal moment in a young doctor’s career. The hospital where a doctor completes residency can have a lasting impact career-wise, and medical students know this.
Take, for example, Dr. Matei Banu, who is about to complete his second year in the residency program at the Department of Neurosurgery at Columbia. As someone not originally from the United States, Dr. Banu’s unconventional path to Columbia was fraught with challenges, and Match Day was life-changing for him. You can read his inspiring story here.
As we welcome our new residents, we also congratulate those who, after seven years of intensive training, are now fully trained neurosurgeons. This year, we salute Dr. Jonathan Yun, who will graduate in June and begin practicing as a neurosurgeon at the Neurosurgeons of New Jersey in July. Congratulations Dr. Yun!
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