The University of Florida held its first virtual Match Day ceremony for the College of Medicine’s class of 2021 on Friday. Match Day is known to be one of the most important days for medical students around the country.
During the ceremony, 142 UF College of Medicine students discovered where they will complete their residency training.
Patricia Miller, fourth-year UF medical student, explained the process leading up to Match Day: “Because of the pandemic, we attended interviews through Zoom with the different residency programs. At the end interview season, we ranked each program from best to worst depending on how much we like it and then the programs do the same for each applicant.”
A computer algorithm program matches up each student’s preferences along with each residency program’s preferences to create an ideal match, Miller said.
About 37% of fourth-year UF medical students will remain in the state of Florida and 25% of those students will remain at the University of Florida for their residency training. About 63% of UF medical students matched into a residency out of the state of Florida.
Medical students around the country were unable to explore the cities that they could potentially be living in due to COVID-19. Instead of meeting the residents and faculty in person, the programs had to accommodate for those who could not travel for safety reasons.
“The program’s really made an effort to get their information out there. They would have us go on virtual tours of their facilities and would do a virtual Zoom cocktail hour with the residents, which was pretty fun,” Miller said.
During the height of the pandemic, UF medical students were unable to do hands-on work in the hospital for a little over 4 months.
“Although it was kind of a bummer to be pulled out clinical rotations, my classmates and I decided to take that time to support frontline hospital staff,” said Miller.
Miller and her classmates developed a project called Cookies To The Frontlines. This baking project allowed them to make baked goods and deliver them to different emergency departments and urgent care centers around Gainesville.
“This project was to let our hardworking hospital staff on the frontlines know we are thinking of them and wishing we could be there with them,” Miller said.
Dr. Patrick Duff, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the UF College of Medicine, said they couldn’t have the ceremony at all last year because of the pandemic, so this year they opted for a virtual ceremony to preserve as much safety as possible. Up until last year, Match Day ceremony has always been an in-person event.
Students, families and faculty would typically gather for brunch and then each student would receive a sealed envelope stating where they have matched.
“The students would get so excited to open their envelopes at the same time and individually announce their residency results in front of the audience,” Duff said. “This year, the student’s just read their match from an email at home.
“The problem is that they’re not all gathered together as a group. They’re separated. Although it is certainly better than what we were able to do last year, I still don’t think it’s nearly as much fun as opposed to when everybody’s together.”
It was a successful Match Day for UF medical students who gathered together on Zoom. Students were able to individually announce which residency they matched into and celebrated their futures with families and friends.