The brisk morning wind couldn’t cool the excitement and enthusiasm of Match Day 2019 at the UMKC School of Medicine. Residencies were announced for 93 students who are headed toward graduation in May. Family and friends cheered them on as they learned where they will write the next chapter in their medical careers.
Just more than half of the class will be headed to a primary care residency. Interim dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., said this year’s class exceeded the national average of students matching to primary care positions. Many, she added, are headed to notable programs throughout the country.
The students won assignments in 28 states and the District of Columbia, from Vermont to Hawaii and California to Florida. Some are headed to the top names in medicine, including Mayo, Stanford, Emory, Baylor, Yale and UCLA. A baker’s dozen will stay at UMKC and its affiliate hospitals; 22 will be elsewhere in Missouri and Kansas.
Internal medicine was the top category with two-dozen placements, followed by 14 in pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics, eight in psychiatry, seven each in family medicine and anesthesiology, and six each in emergency medicine and general surgery.
Just minutes before 11 a.m., Ryan Lee stood at the back of Theater A surrounded by friends. He was trying to remain calm as everyone waited for the appointed time when students could receive their Match envelopes and discover their residency destinations.
“Right now, I’m just feeling relieved because I know I have a job somewhere,” Lee said.
Moments later, he learned that he would remain in Kansas City for a preliminary medicine year at the School of Medicine before heading to St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for a three-year anesthesiology residency.
Meanwhile, Amaka Ofodu was still gasping for breath and accepting a long line of hugs after receiving her first choice of residencies — medicine-pediatrics at Greenville Health System, University of South Carolina, Greenville.
“I can’t believe it. I’m still freaking out,” Ofodu said. “It’s a blessing. My family is here and my friends are all here. There’s just so much love and some much appreciation.”
Chris Favier held a letter in his hands as his father recorded the moment with a cell phone. His brother, Ben, a 2012 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, stood nearby watching with friends and family.
“And the survey says,” Favier said as he opened the letter. “Oh my gosh, Mizzou!”
A St. Louis native, Favier will be heading closer to home for his first residency choice of emergency medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“At first you’re really nervous and anxious but as time progresses, you look around at your family and friends and the excitement keeps building,” he said. “This was one of the residencies I was expecting so I’m very happy to go. And, I’ve got a job for next year, so I’m pumped.”
An early morning rain shower couldn’t dampen the Match Day excitement throughout the UMKC School of Medicine on Friday, March 16. Students gathered with family and friends to fill all three of the school’s theaters to open letters from the National Residency Matching Program. Inside the envelopes, the learned where they will be going in a few months to begin their medical residencies.
This year’s graduating class will be disbursed throughout 31 states and the District of Columbia for residency training.
Internal medicine was the most frequent match with 27 residencies. Other popular matches were pediatrics and medicine-pediatrics (11), general surgery (9), psychiatry (9), family medicine (8), emergency medicine (7), anesthesiology (6) and orthopedic surgery (4).
Thirty-three of the residency matches are in the Kansas City area, mainly through UMKC and its affiliate hospitals, but also at the University of Kansas. A half-dozen are in St. Louis, and four are at University of Missouri-Columbia.
As the soon to be residents celebrated with classmates, some reflected on their time at the School of Medicine and shared their Match Day thoughts about what lies ahead.
Ahsan Hussain / Ophthalmology / New York Medical College — Valhalla, New York
Why did you come to UMKC School of Medicine? On interview day, when I first got here, I saw how close everyone was, the camaraderie among the docents and the students. It felt like a very comfortable environment. I’m from New York and didn’t want to be that far from home, but I felt like this would be a second family for me, and it has been. What is your fondest memory of medical school? Definitely hanging out with my unit. Red 2 – the best unit ever! What did you the night before to prepare for Match Day? I worked out. Kind of got the stress out, all the pre-game jitters. Just kind of relaxed. Why ophthalmology? This was the one specialty where I felt like I could make the most difference. I love taking care of people’s eyes. I think sight is the most important sense and to help someone see and maintain their vision is important. What’s next? Just taking the next few months to hang out with as many people as I can, soak up as much of Kansas City as I can. Knock a few things off the bucket list and enjoy this place as much as I can before I leave.
Kelly Kapp / General Surgery / UMKC School of Medicine
Why did you come to UMKC School of Medicine? I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and I really liked that the program was accelerated. The clinical experience is really strong here. I’m very motivated by seeing immediate results, so being part of a group people motivated by patient care was important. And I liked that it’s a small class, so you get to know everyone in your docent unit and have a core group to lean on. What is your most fondest memory of medical school? I really loved the Do-Ro rotation with my unit. I also had really close roommates that I met in the dorms. We’ve been friends for six years. It’s been fun to get to know them through the bad times and the good, the study sessions and the long nights. Even though they were rough nights, they were great. What will you miss most about medical school and UMKC? I’ll miss my class and my friends, the docents and the really strong teaching atmosphere. It’s a hard program, but it doesn’t feel as hard when you have everyone working together. Why general surgery? I like that there are acute problems that you can fix immediately. You go into the day with a checklist of things to do. You get those things done and you know at the end of the day, you’ve helped the patient. What did you do the night before to prepare for Match Day? My mom and my sister came in, and we got together and just relaxed. My roommate and I have been friends for six years. We said a quick prayer, relaxed and took deep breaths.
Christopher Tomassain / Dermatology / University of Kansas School of Medicine – Kansas City, Kansas
Why did you choose the UMKC School of Medicine? It was because of the six-year program. That and my cousins went here, so I had some family that had gone through the program and really liked it. So, I decided to pursue it. What was your best memory of the UMKC School of Medicine? It has to be the friends I made throughout the years. It’s not really just one memory, it’s the journey that you’re on for six years. The close connections you have with friends are what I’ll remember most. How did you prepare for Match Day? I just stayed at home, drank a glass of wine and tried to relax. How will you celebrate? I’m flying to Las Vegas after this to meet my parents. I’m from Los Angeles, so it was easier for them to go to Las Vegas than to come here. What’s next? In 10 years, I want to have my own practice with my sister as my physician assistant.
Caitlin Curcuru / Anesthesiology / University of Chicago Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois Why anesthesiology as your specialty? My mom is a nurse anesthetist, so I had some early exposure and just really fell in love with it. What is your fondest memory of medical school? I’m on Dr. Keeler’s unit, so I have so many great memories. He is awesome. He’s an incredible docent and mentor, and we had so much fun, especially on Do-Ro. What will you miss most about UMKC and medical school? I’ll miss all the friends that I’ve made over the last six years because we’ve become really close. Did you do anything special last night to prepare for Match Day? My family came into town, and we all went out to dinner, went to a movie and just chilled. How do you plan to celebrate? First, I’m going to finish this bottle of champagne (a Match Day celebration gift) and then join everyone at John’s Big Deck, so it’s going to be fun.
Minh Vuong-Dac / Family Medicine / Presby Intercommunity Hospital — Whittier, California
Why did you come to UMKC School of Medicine? Knowing that I’d be getting clinical experience from day one and knowing that I wanted to do medicine, I felt like this was the perfect place. And Kansas City is awesome. I think the UMKC School of Medicine is one of the best programs in the country. I would do it again every time. Why family medicine? I like treating patients of all ages, from babies to older people, and doing procedures. So, this was a natural choice for me. What will you remember most about medical school? Meeting all my friends and making another family, another home here, and getting to do what I love. I’m from California. Coming from Los Angeles, I was skeptical that I’d be able to call this a second home, but I really have and have come to love this city. What will you miss most? I’m going to miss everything about it, the doctors, the administration. This is just such a nurturing environment. I came out of high school and everyone here has helped me grow into who I am today. What’s next? I realize that I would really love to be involved in academics. I’d love to be involved with this school again one day. We’ll see, but right now, I think that sounds like a good plan.
Tasha Tuong / Family Medicine / Presby Intercommunity Hospital — Whittier, California
Why did you come to the UMKC School of Medicine? I grew up in California and my parents actually moved to Kansas City when I was 16 so they could help me get into the six-year program here. It was a family decision. What is your fondest memory of medical school? My most fond memory would probably have to be meeting my boyfriend, Minh. Why Family Medicine? I wanted a specialty that gives me a lot flexibility to do whatever I wanted. After residency, I could be a hospitalist, I could be doing sports medicine, I could be doing anything I want to. How do you plan to celebrate? We’re all going to go to John’s Big Deck, it’s one of our traditions at the med school.
Sean Rogers / General Surgery / Akron General Medical Center/NEOMED — Akron, Ohio
Why did you come to UMKC for medical school? I was at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and I got an interview here at the UMKC School of Medicine. They said “yes” and I wasn’t about to turn it down. Why general surgery? I love the procedural aspect of it and the fact they tend to take care of sicker patients. It isn’t as much rounding, it is more doing. What is your best memory from medical school? They’re all surgeries, being in the operating room. The first case that I ever scrubbed in for was a whipple procedure, which is a really long procedure, eight or nine hours. I was in dress shoes because I hadn’t dressed properly for the day. I loved it. I was there uncomfortable in my dress shoes for nine hours but I was like, yeah, this is for me. How are you going to celebrate your residency match? I’m going to go out with my family for lunch and then I’m going to go out with my girlfriend, Isha Jain. She graduated (from the UMKC School of Medicine) last year and is in her first year of family medicine in Chicago. So, I’m going to hang out with her.
Siri Ancha / Internal Medicine / Washington University-St. Louis
Why did you come to the UMKC School of Medicine? I’ve lived in Missouri for 13 years and wanted to stay in the area. I loved the idea of the accelerated program at UMKC. I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, so this was the best way to go. Why internal medicine? I like everything, so I wanted a specialty where I could learn about everything and do everything. I don’t want to limit myself. What will be your fondest memory of the UMKC School of Medicine? Probably Match week, celebrating with all my friends, celebrating all of our accomplishments.
Harris Zamir / Internal Medicine / UMKC
Why did you come to the UMKC School of Medicine? I’m from Kansas City. I knew about the school and knew that I wanted to be a doctor, so it made sense to come here and do what I wanted to do. Why internal medicine? My favorite part about medicine is being able to deal with chronic conditions and being able to find the right medication that works for the patient. What is your best memory of medical school? Today. It’s a combination of all the fond memories, even the bad memories, all coming together in one day. It’s awesome. What will you miss most about UMKC and medical school? This is a bittersweet time. Everyone’s happy because they’re getting the residencies they want, but also a lot of people are going away. My best friends are leaving, going to other cities, so it’s cool that they get to do what they want, but I’m going to miss them. How did you spend the night before Match Day? I worked in the emergency room. I had an emergency medicine shift in the evening.
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.”
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
Tears were still streaming down Emily McGhee’s face Friday morning long after she had opened her letter from the National Residency Matching Program. This was the day she and her classmates had worked toward and now reality was setting in.
McGhee will be headed to Columbia, Missouri, this summer to begin her residency training in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Missouri-Columbia Affiliated Hospitals.
“I got my number one choice,” McGhee said. “These are tears of joy. I was hoping for it, but to finally see it on paper is so exciting.”
Not even the cold weather and threat of rain that forced the day’s festivities inside could dampen the spirit of Match Day at the UMKC School of Medicine. Shouts of joy rang out from each of the school’s three theaters as 91 students began opening their match letters at 11 a.m.
The National Residency Matching Program reported nearly 35,000 medical students at schools across the country were part of Match Day events synchronized to take place all at the same time.
Nearly a fourth of this year’s School of Medicine class will be staying in the Kansas City metropolitan area to do their residencies, including 13 at UMKC School of Medicine programs and four in the pediatrics program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Just more than half of the class matched with programs in internal medicine, pediatrics, medicine-pediatrics, family medicine or obstetrics/gynecology – specialties that fall into the category of primary care. Internal medicine matches led the list with 22, followed by pediatrics with 17.
This year’s class also learned it will scatter throughout the country to begin residencies at hospitals from New York to Florida to California, and one even in Hawaii.
Parmpreet Kaur is one of those headed to the Big Apple, where she will begin training in child neurology at the Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.
“They have an excellent program there and I knew that I really liked that particular specialty,” Kaur said. “It is a very competitive specialty, so I’m just very, very excited that I matched.”
To make the day even more special, Kaur was celebrating with her parents who had driven from their home in Rochester, Minnesota.
“It was amazing to have them here with me,” she said. “This is such a big milestone.”
For Blake Montgomery, if the day seemed like a long time coming, it was for good reason. Montgomery took a full year off between his fourth and fifth years of the medical school program to be part of a research program at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
“A lot of my closest friends graduated last year, but I was fortunate to form a lot of friendships with this year’s class,” Montgomery said. “In some ways, it was like I had two match days.”
Last year, Montgomery stood in the School of Medicine courtyard and celebrated as his future wife, Caitlin Montgomery, matched to a pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy. This time, it was her turn to watch as Montgomery opened his letter telling him that he had matched with the orthopaedic surgery residency program at Stanford University in California.
“This was worth the wait,” Montgomery said. “I learned a lot from my year in Bethesda about research. But this … it was definitely worth the wait.”
Asha Nookala opened the envelope and read the words she wanted to see.
“I got in Mayo!” the UMKC medical student exclaimed before embracing friends and family members.
The envelope informed Nookala that she will spend four years training to be an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In addition to being one of the top hospitals in the world, the Mayo Clinic is close to home for Nookala, who is from Minneapolis.
Nookala, her School of Medicine classmates and thousands of medical students across the United States observed a milestone on Friday, March 20. Match Day, as it’s known, marks the culmination of years of hard work and the promise of a new beginning. On the same day, at the same hour, graduating medical students are presented envelopes notifying them where they will train as residents.
Students share the dramatic moment with loved ones. Balloons, flowers and one well-behaved pit bull were spread among the crowd that gathered in the courtyard in front of the School of Medicine.
Technology shortened the distance that stood between some students and their families. Minutes after learning she was accepted into the physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program at East Carolina University, Ajaya Moturu used her phone to have a video chat with her mother, who lives in Maryland, and her sister, who lives in Florida.
Moturu was eager to share the good news. “I grew up on the East Coast, and I wanted to go home,” she said.
A nonprofit organization, the National Resident Matching Program, determines the matches. A mathematical algorithm sorts the preferences the applicants and the residency programs submit after students have completed interviews at locations where they think they would like to train.
Recognizing that students often find a life partner during medical school, the National Resident Matching Program allows couples to pair their preferences.
Gretchen Woodfork and Ryan Stokes will train in family medicine at UMKC.
Stokes and Woodfork, who met at UMKC and were married last summer, went through the couples match. They will train at UMKC’s family medicine residency program, which is based at Truman Medical Center-Lakewood.
Stokes said he was impressed by what he heard when he interviewed with the leaders of the family medicine residency program. “Even the weaknesses that they said they had, they were saying how they were actively trying to improve them,” he said.
Some students knew their results before Match Day. Ophthalmology and urology matches are announced in January. Two UMKC students were accepted into ophthalmology residency programs, and one matched in urology.
There is a separate match for prospective military physicians, as well. Four UMKC students learned in December that the Air Force had accepted their applications. Three were matched with programs at military hospitals.
The fourth, Sadie Alongi, will train in orthopaedic surgery at UMKC. Many Air Force physician officers train at civilian academic medical centers. Alongi was offered the opportunity to pursue this route, which required her to apply to programs through the National Resident Matching Program.
Applicants to the main match learn on the Monday before Match Day whether (but not where) they placed. Alongi was thrilled to find out she would be able to pursue her dream of becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.
“I could not be more thankful for this great opportunity ahead of me,” she said.
Alongi is one of 21 UMKC students who matched with a residency program at the UMKC School of Medicine or Children’s Mercy. Half of the students will enter a primary care residency (internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine and medicine/pediatrics).
Bailey Hunkler will train in internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
“It seemed like a great working environment, which is what I was looking for,” she said. “In particular, they have a large population of underserved patients with one of the hospitals they work with. That patient population I am passionate about working for.”
After two days of chill and rain, the ceremony took place under sunny skies and on the first day of spring.
“Somehow on Match Day, things clear up,” Felix Okah, M.D., assistant dean for career advising, said from the podium, before the envelopes were distributed.
Okah spoke after Dean Steven L. Kanter, who said the students were headed for success based on the paths taken by previous graduating classes.
“We are very, very proud of you,” the dean said. “Good luck.”
Rima Chakraborty, MS 6, wiped the tears from her eyes late Friday morning, March 21, after reading a letter from the National Resident Matching Program congratulating her on her on a successful match:
“University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minn.
Chakraborty then turned and embraced her husband, Neer Dutta, a student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
“We both have family in Minnesota,” Chakraborty said as Dutta stood next to her with a bouquet of flowers.
The two have been married for almost a year. Dutta said he would be working hard to land a residency position near Minneapolis when it’s his turn to go through the match process two years from now.
“I was hoping to go to the University of Minnesota,” Chakraborty said. “I wanted to go some place that I love. I opened the letter and thought, ‘It’s someplace I love.’ I’m very happy right now.”
Throughout the courtyard in front of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, 83 members of the Class of 2014 shared the joys and excitement of Match Day with friends and family.
Just less than one-third of this year’s class will be staying in state for their residency training. Of the 27 students who matched to a residency in Missouri, 16 will be going into UMKC residency programs, including three in the pediatrics residency at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.
Internal medicine programs landed the largest number of UMKC students, with 22 headed to programs across the country — from Florida to Texas to California. Pediatrics and medicine-pediatrics had the next highest number of matches with 11. Overall, 36 students from the UMKC School of Medicine matched in a primary care field.
School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., congratulated the class on a successful Match Day and shared how alumni continue to tell her how well students from School perform in their residencies.
“Please go forward with great confidence,” Drees said. “You are well prepared for these programs that you have matched to and will all do exceptionally well.”
Vikram Chakravarthy, MS 6, said Match Day is a time that students have long anticipated and called it a culmination of many years of hard work. Chakravarthy and Aakash Shah, MS 6, thanked Felix Oka, M.D., assistant dean for career advising, and Connie Beachler, career counselor, for their support and help throughout the match process on behalf of the class.
“We would not be here today had it not been for these two individuals,” Shah said. “As the Class of 2014, we know that it’s your jobs, that you do year in and year out. But from the bottom of our hearts, this is what makes UMKC family. These are the people that go above and beyond their jobs to help us reach our dreams and aspirations.”