Students Celebrate in Untraditional Match Day

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sidney Kimmel Medical College students learn their next career step.
Medical student holding a match day sign
Student Stephanie Rakestraw posted on social media that she will go to the University of Alabama Medical Center along with a drawing she made in first grade of her early career aspirations of being a doctor.

In a Match Day unlike any other in Jefferson’s history, 253 Sidney Kimmel Medical College students learned where they will complete their residencies on Friday.

Under usual Match Day circumstances at the University, medical students come together and open envelopes in unison to reveal where they will be headed. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jefferson needed to cancel the traditionally large ceremony on campus.

“While many medical schools across the country have made the same decision, we understand how upsetting this may be,” says Dr. Charles Pohl, Jefferson’s vice provost and vice dean of student affairs. “The Jefferson community shares this sentiment, but we’re forced to make this decision to protect everyone—from students to faculty to loved ones.”

Medical student holds a match day sign with his wife
Sidney Kimmel Medical College student Alex White celebrated with his wife, parents and siblings in New Jersey. He will go to New York's Hospital for Special Surgery for orthopedic surgery.

Student Alex White and his wife drove to the Jersey Shore to celebrate at his parents’ house with his siblings in a small gathering. They all watched as he logged onto a special Jefferson website at noon on March 20 to find out he matched with his “dream” program: Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City for orthopedic surgery.

“The most important thing for me was to be around family,” White says. “We were still able to enjoy that moment.”

Student Stephanie Rakestraw also spent time with family, heading out to Bucks County for the announcement with her parents and brother. On social media, she posted the news that she will go to the University of Alabama Medical Center for surgery side-by-side with a drawing she made in first grade of her very early career aspirations of being a doctor.

Despite being away from her classmates, Rakestraw still called it a celebratory moment. She used Zoom and FaceTime to connect with her friends and see where everyone matched.

“We all wanted to experience the moment together,” says Rakestraw, noting she hopes to assist as soon as possible with the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is what we went into medicine for—to help people when they really needed it.”

Medical student holds a match day sign
Student Kendrick Go posed for a picture with his fiancé and cat. “I want to take care of anyone and everyone,” says Go of his specialty choice of family medicine.

Jefferson students vied for some 32,400 spots among roughly 5,050 U.S. residency programs, Dr. Pohl notes. The specialties of internal medicine, pediatrics and emergency medicine received the highest number of matches for Jefferson students.

Nearly 25 percent of students matched to a Jefferson hospital or affiliate. Other top programs students which matched into include Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

While most students found out their residencies last week, those going into the military, ophthalmology and urology were among the early matches. Kendrick Go knew in December he would be heading to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for family medicine, but he still grabbed his cat and met his fiancé to celebrate and pose for a picture.

“I want to take care of anyone and everyone,” he says of his specialty choice.

Dr. Pohl extended congratulations to all the members of the Class of 2020 for their dedication to the field of medicine.

“We’re proud of each and every one of you,” he says. “You have reached this momentous occasion because of your hard work and commitment to this incredible profession and your passion to improve the lives of others.”

See more student photos from Match Day here.

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Health, Life at Jefferson