Jasleen Ghuman opened the white envelope in her hands, took a quick peek at the single page message inside, and exploded with screams of joy.
Ten years ago, Ghuman came to the United States from India with her mother and siblings. Her dream was to become a doctor.
Her dream took a big step toward becoming reality on Match Day, Friday, March 17. That’s when she learned that she will be headed to Northwestern University in Chicago this summer to begin a residency in internal medicine after graduating from the UMKC School of Medicine in May.
“It’s my number one choice,” Ghuman said. “I got it. I’m very, very pleased and surprised. I never thought I’d go this far. You have those moments when you aim really high and then you start to question your choice. And then it happens. I’m so excited.”
She wasn’t alone.
Nearly 100 students in the School of Medicine’s Class of 2017 participated in this year’s National Residency Matching Program. Before receiving their Match letters from the Education Team Coordinators, they received an encouraging buildup from School of Medicine Dean Steven Kanter, M.D.
“I know what you have had to do to get to this day, and how hard you have had to work,” Kanter said. “You’ve done a magnificent job. I know how great a job you’ve done because I get to see the results just a little bit before you do, and I can tell you this is the best match this school has ever had.”
Nearly 40 percent of this year’s class matched to a primary care specialty. Internal medicine had the largest number of UMKC student matches with 21, followed by pediatrics with 10, and family medicine with six. Twenty-three students will remain in Missouri for their residencies, 13 of them in the Kansas City area, including nine who matched to UMKC residencies and three who will stay in Kansas City for pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
For Bilal Alam, the news was still sinking nearly 15 minutes after opening his envelope. At Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University had just one residency position available for an interventional radiologist.
The letter told Alam that position was his.
“I’m very humbled,” Alam said. “I can’t even describe the feeling I have right now.”
Looking on, Alam’s father, Mahmood, said, “I was praying for this and it happened.”
“I’m shocked,” Alam said. “I literally can’t believe it.”
Medical students at schools across the country were sharing in the excitement at the same moment. The NRMP embargoes the public release of its list of where students have matched until 11 a.m. Central time each year.
For students like Ghuman, it is a time of dreams coming true. Living in India, the family finances weren’t available for her to attend medical school. She earned a nursing degree instead. When the family moved to the United States, she began to support herself working at a nursing home. She later worked as a certified nursing assistant at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle before taking a chance and coming to Kansas City to attend medical school.
As a crowd around her celebrated, a friend held up Ghuman’s cell phone. Her mother was on the other end, watching by Skype back home in Seattle. Half a country apart, the two celebrated together for a few moments.
“It’s been a long exciting journey,” Ghuman said. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family.”
2017 UMKC School of Medicine
Primary care specialties:
Internal Medicine — 21
Pediatrics — 10
Family Medicine — 6
Medicine-Pediatrics — 2
Primary Medicine — 1
Total — 39 = 40%
General surgery & subspecialties:
Obstetrics/Gynecology — 5
General Surgery — 4
Orthopedic Surgery — 3
Otolaryngology — 2
Oral Surgery — 2
Total — 16 = 16%
Metro Kansas City area matches:
UMKC — 9
Children’s Mercy — 3
Univ. of Kansas — 1
Total — 13 = 13%
Kansas City metro — 13
Washington Univ. — 6
Missouri-Columbia — 2
St. Louis Univ. — 2
Total — 23 = 23%
Other top states:
California — 7
Illinois — 7
New York — 6
Notable residency programs students matched into:
Mayo School of GME-Rochester
*includes categorical/advanced positions only