Due to the coronavirus outbreak and stay-at-home order issued by California Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday, the Match Day ceremony for fourth-year medical students at the University of California, Riverside, took place this year on video-streaming service Zoom.
Graduating U.S. medical students learn on Match Day whether they have been accepted into one of their top-choice hospital or health system residency programs. Traditionally, the envelopes are opened at the same time at all Match Day events in the country. UCR students opened their match letters by encrypted email at 9 a.m. today.
Of the 67 UCR students who matched, 60% will perform their residency training in Southern California, with 28% staying in the Inland Empire; 78% matched into primary care and other specialties such as psychiatry and general surgery that are in short supply in inland Southern California.
“All our students matched into excellent residency programs,” said Dr. Deborah Deas, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and Mark and Pam Rubin Dean of the School of Medicine, who attended the online ceremony. “We are proud of your accomplishments and are grateful to have been a part of your journey. We thank the families and friends of our students for their unwavering support during this journey. We are so happy that the online technology allowed us to come together to celebrate this day.”
Deas welcomed the class of 2020 to UC Riverside at a white coat ceremony shortly after her own arrival at the school in 2016.
“We are looking forward to the great things you will accomplish, and we are also looking forward to many of you returning to the Inland Empire and joining our faculty as well,” she said.
Dr. Emma Simmons, senior associate dean of student affairs at the UCR School of Medicine and the Salma Haider Endowed Chair for the Thomas Haider Program, also congratulated the graduating students.
“I know that I speak for everyone — the staff, faculty, your family, friends, and preceptors — we are extremely proud of you,” she said. “You have reached the rite of passage of joining the 0.3% of people living in America who have earned the right to call themselves physicians.”
The School of Medicine offered the students a Google Map to pin their match locations. The event closed with a toast, with students bringing beverages of their choice. The class of 2020 posted photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #UCRmatch20.
“With the social distancing measures implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, our traditional in-person celebration wasn't possible,” Deas said. “I am so grateful to all the staff and faculty members who, despite rapidly changing circumstances, worked long hours together to create an online event that rivaled the traditional one. They went above and beyond to make Match Day 2020 a great and memorable celebration for our students.”
Graduating student Antonio Garcia said he was excited to have matched into the family medicine residency program at the UCR School of Medicine.
“It keeps me home and allows me to continue to work to improve and help those in my community in the Inland Empire,” he said.
His classmate, Kleshie Baisie, was delighted to match into the pediatrics residency program at Stanford University.
“This residency experience will give me the tools and knowledge that will allow me to return to the Inland Empire as a pediatrician who actively works to promote community wellness by enriching the health of its youngest members,” she said.
The online Match Day project was a collaboration between several teams at the School of Medicine, in particular the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Strategic Initiatives.
“Given the constantly changing situation around the COVID-19 virus, we had to continuously adapt,” said Eric Romero, event planner specialist in the Office of Student Affairs. “Our teams worked together to communicate with the students, password protect their match letters, and find a system that would allow them to still be able to celebrate the moment with their families and loved ones, while sharing the journey with others who helped along the way. Zoom allowed us to set up the students as panelists in the safety and comfort of their homes with the people they love, and also broadcast the event to others.”