A Match Day to Remember

Hugs and high fives were the order of the day at Match Day 2011. "I can't stop crying!" one student exclaimed.

Published March 29, 2011

"I think it’s really nice that UB gives this day the respect that it deserves because it ends up being pretty momentous."
Meghana Gadgil, Fourth-year medical student

As a fourth-year medical student, Eva Lewin encourages patients to use the numeric pain scale to rate the severity of their discomfort from zero to 10.

On Match Day, while she nervously awaited news of her residency placement, Lewin turned the pain scale on herself.

“I think I'm at 100,” she said.

Then Lewin unsealed the letter that would seal her future, and her anxiety gave way to joy.

She threw up her arms and screamed. She hugged her best friend, her parents, her godparents and her sister. She cupped her hands in her face and dropped her head to the table.

Lewin had matched at her first choice—Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., where she’ll train in medicine-pediatrics.

Around her, similar celebrations took place. Such was the scene at UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Match Day 2011, held March 17 at the Harbour Club in HSBC Arena.

“We’re always told that this is a really fun day, but I had no idea it was going to be like this,” Lewin said, the smile never leaving her face. “This is even more exciting than they described it.”

Luck of the Irish—and Lots of Hard Work

Match Day—when fourth-year medical students receive their residency assignment—traditionally takes place the third Thursday in March. A rite of passage for prospective physicians, it’s the culmination of a process that begins months earlier, when students interview at residency programs in their chosen specialty.  

From there, applicants and hospitals submit ranked lists of their respective favorites to the National Resident Matching Program, which uses a computerized algorithm to match future doctors to residency programs.

This year, Match Day coincided with St. Patrick’s Day. In honor of the holiday, Eric Jablonka and Nicole Grocky both wore green. After opening their envelopes, they couldn’t believe their luck.

To maximize Jablonka’s chances of matching in plastic surgery—one of the most competitive residency specialties—they had made the difficult decision not to try to match as a couple. As it turns out, both will train in New York City: Grocky in pediatrics at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Jablonka at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

“I’m thrilled,” Jablonka said, as a champagne cork popped in the background. “It’s a great day. It’s very sentimental. You have four years of hard work, and it boils down to this day. I’m happy that I can carry on and say I graduated from UB. The education here was phenomenal.”

Looking Forward and Back

Like Jablonka, many fourth-year UB medical students spent the afternoon looking toward their future and reflecting on the past four years.

“UB educated me very well, and I feel prepared to go to the next step,” said Mendel Goldfinger, who will train in medicine at Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “We had good chemistry in our class from day one. People helped each other out from day one, and it continues up to today.”

“UB has been wonderful preparation for residency and the rest of my career,” added Meghana Gadgil. “The faculty are incredibly dedicated to the success of students, and the community here is incredibly warm. I was a transplant from the West Coast, and this was a really friendly place to move to.”

Gadgil learned on Match Day that she'll be returning to the West Coast, where she'll train in medicine at California's Stanford University. Her boyfriend, a PhD student at University of California-Berkeley, flew to Buffalo to join Gadgil on her big day. Together, they celebrated the fact that they’ll no longer be separated by several time zones—just the San Francisco Bay.

“It’s great that UB takes the time to have this Match Day ceremony,” Gadgil said. “Not all schools do. I have friends in medical school who just wait at home for the email telling them where they matched. I think it’s really nice that UB gives this day the respect that it deserves because it ends up being pretty momentous."

Milestone Moments

For Alexis Sciarrino, 2011 is shaping up as a momentous year. Seven weeks before Match Day, she gave birth to her daughter, Mikaela. Then she learned that she had matched in emergency medicine in her first-choice residency program, UB.

 “I interviewed at 10 places and UB was still my favorite,” she said. “No one else matched up. It’s an amazing program, both the clinical aspect of it and the people in it. I think the people are what sealed it for me. The attendings, the residents—everyone is amazing. Everything worked out perfectly.”

As Sciarrino spoke, she held wide-eyed Mikaela in her arms. When the band started playing, Mikaela momentarily lifted her head off her mother’s chest, stirred by a hard-edged version of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.”

Meanwhile, in the center of the Harbour Club, Eva Lewin was taking it all in, too.

“This is one of those moments you remember forever, so I’m trying to soak it all up,” she said. “It’s really nice to see everybody and share this exciting time because we’ll be separated before we know it.”

Come graduation day, Lewin will celebrate with her classmates one more time. On that occasion, her father, a retired thoracic surgeon, will have the honor of hooding her.