This year’s graduating medical students from the UTMB — who arrived on the island to begin their studies in late August 2008, just weeks before Hurricane Ike — found out at the annual Match Day Ceremony where they will serve their medical residencies.
This group of 227 has spent the last four years living through Galveston’s recovery while focusing on their education at an institution undergoing a massive rebuilding effort. Many of them lost all their personal possessions when the worst storm in 100 years struck Gulf Coast.
“Hurricane Ike roared into Galveston just two and a half weeks after this year’s graduating class members started their first classes as medical students,” said Dr. Donald Prough, interim dean of UTMB’s School of Medicine. “Everything in their world was turned upside down at a critical moment in their lives, but they persevered through tremendous adversity. They are resilient. Their determination has been amazing to see. They have inspired all of us who have worked with them while they’ve been here at UTMB.”
Match Day is a national event held at medical schools in the United States during which fourth-year students are “matched” with the institutions where they will spend the next three to six years training as hospital residents.
Before Match Day, students spend the fall and winter visiting and interviewing at potential institutions. Then they submit three preferences in their chosen specialty as well as a location to a national centralized matching service.
During UTMB’s Match Day ceremony, envelopes with students’ names were randomly selected by staff members of UTMB’s School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs and Admissions. The envelopes contain the information stating where they will receive residency training in their chosen specialty.
The event was informal and high-energy, with a whimsical St. Patrick’s Day theme, upbeat music, dancing in the aisles, and whoops of joy and tearful embraces punctuating the ceremony.
As emotional as each year’s event always is for medical students and their families, this year’s Match Day was even more so because of everything the group has lived through together.
“I am so very proud of this class,” said Dr. Lauree Thomas, associate dean of student affairs. “Their experience of disaster and recovery has forced them to juggle more than they could ever have imagined even the most rigorous medical training would entail. Many lost their homes, possessions, textbooks, computers and clothes in their first few weeks as medical students. Yet, they remained undeterred. Through all this, our students have garnered some of the most competitive residency slots across the country, which is a true testimony to their strength, courage and innate determination.”