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Match Day: A rite of passage

Newly minted UC Irvine doctors receive their match letters from the medical institutions where they'll begin their careers.
UC Irvine Communications
New UC Irvine doctor Jacob Blickenstaff and his wife, Jacky, cheer over his letter from the medical institution where he'll begin his career.

Graduating medical students look to the future as they learn where their careers will start

After endless hours of intense studying and clinical rotations, soon-to-graduate UC Irvine medical students saw their dreams come into focus on Match Day, March 20, when they learned where they will start their careers as doctors.

Match Day is an annual activity that takes place simultaneously at all U.S. medical schools, involving about 28,000 graduating students.

At UC Irvine, it’s an emotional, festive event during which the future doctors are called to a podium one at a time to open an envelope and read aloud before hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where they’ll spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training as a resident physician.

As part of this tradition, upon reaching the podium, each student places a dollar bill in a doctor’s satchel, which belonged to Dr. Robert Brown, who received it as a gift from his father upon earning his doctorate in 1951 from the osteopathic school which eventually evolved into the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Making the ceremony even more festive was the participation of Dr. Howard Federoff, who will join UC Irvine on July 1 as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine

Once again, UC Irvine’s graduating medical students gained residencies in some of the most competitive programs in the country. This year, 96 medical students participated in Match Day, and 23 received "matches" from medical programs at UC Irvine. They include:

  • Folu Ani is a native of Nigeria who is receiving an MBA along with his medical degree this year. His receives a residency position in anesthesiology at UC Irvine, and his long-term goal is to use his business and medical skills to provide leadership for international healthcare efforts.
  • A former elementary school teacher, Marcella Torres, 40, used her experience volunteering with the Peace Corp in Panama and helping Burmese refugees in Northern Thailand to enter UC Irvine’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community, the first medical training program to address the specific needs of America’s largest and fastest-growing community. She matched with a family medicine residency program at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, Calif., and next month she plans to go Cuba with another PRIME-LC student to observe its community-based primary care health system.
  • As a high school senior, Pasadena-native Megan Oakes was the Queen of the 2004 Rose Parade. She earned a nursing degree from the University of Virginia, but soon after decided to become a physician. She placed in a residency position in obstetrics and gynecology at UC Irvine. Her father, Richard Chinen was president for the 2014-2015 Tournament of Roses, and she rode with him on a float during this year’s parade.

This Match Day group is made up of the second class that participated in all four years of the iMedEd Initiative, a unique education program that is reinventing the traditional medical school curriculum. It was the first to build a completely digital, interactive learning environment — which includes tablet-based learning and portable ultrasound clinical training — and continues to lead in adapting emerging technologies for all aspects of classroom and clinical training. UC Irvine is the first all-digital program medical schools in the nation, and by having all aspects of the medical school curriculum on iPad, students are learning better than they have in the past.

This showed in the quality of the residency programs this year’s graduating class was accepted into, including leading ones at Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, UC San Francisco, Washington University-St. Louis and, of course, UC Irvine.

— Tom Vasich, UC Irvine

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