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Virtual Match Day: UMMS faculty members send warm messages to students discovering their medical matches

By Kylee Denesha and Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

April 02, 2020

“Onward and upward! Maybe with a few loop-dee-doodles along the way, just for fun,” exclaimed Susan Gagliardi, PhD, professor of neurology.

This was just one of the many virtual messages that UMass Medical School faculty had for their School of Medicine students on Match Day 2020. In an online approach for this year’s graduating class, as COVID-19 continues to spread nationwide, students found out where their medical careers will begin through email. 

Match Day is the annual, nationwide pairing of graduating medical students with postgraduate residency training programs administered by the National Resident Matching Program. In past years, students and faculty gather together to celebrate these new chapters. However, in the interest of everyone’s safety, the event had to be done from afar on March 20.

“I’m sorry we aren’t all here to do the hugs and the high-fives,” said Michael P. Hirsh, MD, assistant vice provost for wellness and health promotion, professor of surgery, chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery and surgeon-in-chief for the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. “I think you should be so proud and excited about the journey ahead.”

The medical school used social media as a tool to give students the sense of community they would have had in person. Through an Instagram account dedicated to Match Day, a number of faculty members and a few students sent warm wishes and congratulations. 

Some of the messages were emotional and deliberate.

“This will be an extraordinary day that you will always remember for so many reasons ,” said Sonia Chimienti, MD, associate dean for student affairs. “Most importantly, the achievements and the milestone that you have reached with this. It’s been a pleasure for me to share this journey with you and watch as you have each reached your goals and surpassed them.”

Other messages were fun and lighthearted.

“Happy Match Day to you! Happy Match Day to you!,” sang Michael Ennis, MD, professor of family medicine & community health. “That song took about as long as it should take you to wash your hands nowadays.”

“It was awesome that the faculty and other students were willing to take the time to record some messages, and it really showed how much they care about our class” said MD candidate Nicholas Martin. He matched at the Barre Family Health Center in family medicine.

“It meant a lot to hear from some of the people who were my role models and some of the reasons I chose family medicine in the first place. The virtual approach was a little bit strange in that we couldn’t celebrate with our classmates, but it was nice to be able to open the email with my family,” Martin explained.

“I can’t put into words how much I appreciate everyone who sent a message, it really built up our excitement,” said Danielle Kerrigan, an MD candidate. She matched at Brown in emergency medicine. “It was also fun to show my family the various faculty members who have been so important to my medical education over the last four years.”

The top matches for 2020 were at UMass Memorial Health Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Match Day residency placements signal next steps for SOM Class of ’20
Early match success for School of Medicine 2020 students
UMass Medical School plans virtual Match Day celebration