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Zucker School of Medicine’s Match Day Celebration Goes Virtual

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HEMPSTEAD, NY — Match Day, the annual rite of passage for fourth-year medical students nationwide, was celebrated virtually at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. On Match Day, students learn where they will be spending their residency or fellowship training. Traditionally they are on campus – surrounded by family, friends, classmates and professors – as they open the envelopes that hold the key to their future.

Instead, this year, Zucker students were invited to share their big reveal via Zoom conferencing. “While it is sad that we can’t be together to celebrate, we will watch and hopefully see each other’s happy reactions,” said Dean Lawrence G. Smith, MD, MACP, noting that this was the Zucker School’s sixth Match Day. He congratulated the students, pointing out that 38 of them had matched to the major hospitals of the top 24 medical schools in the country.

Dean Smith shares a few words with our fourth-year students during our virtual ceremony.

Here is the Match Day 2020 breakdown for the Zucker School of Medicine’s 99 participating students:

  • 30 students were matched to Northwell Health residency programs;
  • Placements were made in 23 specialty areas. Internal medicine was the most popular with 15 placements. Other top areas were pediatrics, emergency medicine and anesthesiology.
  • Residency spots were obtained in 19 different states, including Case Western University Hospital (Cleveland Medical Center), New York Presbyterian – Columbia University Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, New York University (Grossman School of Medicine), Stanford University, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UCLA Medical Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Yale New Haven Hospital;
  • Six couples successfully secured residency spots via the “Couples Match,” where pairs of students, including engaged and married couples and close friends can apply for residency together with the goal of matching in the same program and/or region for their training.

Judy Li, a first-generation American from Queens, has appreciated the sense of community within the Zucker School, as well as “the hands-on interactive aspect of the curriculum.” Li, who was matched to Rutgers Medical School, chose to specialize in surgery because “I want to be a part of the patient’s story from beginning to end.”

For some students, like former professional athlete Mark Hamilton, the Zucker School has been the next step in a remarkable journey. Hamilton earned his undergraduate degree in neuroscience at Tulane after a successful career as a first baseman in the MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I knew I could delay a career in academia for professional baseball, but not vice versa,” he said. “My plan had always been to return to Tulane and finish my degree at some point, and if the situation permitted, continue on a path to medical school.”

Hamilton was matched to an interventional radiological program at Northwell Health.

“The focus has been to challenge the students to develop an integrative and conceptual approach to medical science, while at the same time endowing them with the requisite knowledge of a medical physician,” Hamilton said “The school has a winning approach and demands teamwork and excellence from its students and faculty. I can honestly say there is no place I would rather be.”

Long Islander Christine Cummings is heading to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the pediatric residency track.  A former middle school math teacher, she sees this next step in her training as particularly meaningful.

“I’m looking forward to being able to help those who can’t advocate for themselves during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” she said. “How can I help uninsured kids? Kids who are relying on school lunches for nutritious meals? CHOP [Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia] is on the front lines of these issues, and it’s where I want to be.”

Like Cummings, Matt Theoharakis is also on the pediatrics track. He was matched to New York Presbyterian, and his partner Alex Qin is going to the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for obstetrics and gynecology.

Matt Theoharakis (L) matched to New York Presbyterian and Alex Qin (R) matched to the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai through NRMP’s Couples Match system.
Matt Theoharakis (L) matched to New York Presbyterian and Alex Qin (R) matched to the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai through NRMP’s Couples Match system.

“We’re uniquely equipped to have conversations about COVID-19,” he said of his training at Zucker. “Our school is based upon dynamic learning, learning in real-time, and they’ve done a great job of teaching us how to differentiate the necessary information about this pandemic from the deluge of information we’re faced with. Half of our job is treating patients, half is addressing fears, and we feel empowered to help patients with both facets in the coming months as things unfold.”

Match Day occurs on the third Friday of March each year at medical schools in the United States where the results of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) are announced.  The Match process begins in the fall, usually in the final year of medical school when students apply to residency programs at which they would like to train.  Program directors review applications and conduct candidate interviews. Applicants later submit their rank order lists of preferred programs to the NRMP, and program directors rank applicants in order of preference for training.

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