Screams of joy erupted in Acuff Atrium Friday at the MU School of Medicine as 111 fourth-year MU medical students ripped open their Match Day envelopes — and learned where they will serve their residency.
Match Day is a ceremony held at many universities throughout the U.S. Graduating medical students receive envelopes announcing which medical facility they are matched with.
The students’ residencies are decided by The National Residency Matching Program, which uses computer software and the students’ declared preferences to find them a place to begin practicing medicine. There are 40,000 residency positions offered and nearly 43,000 medical school graduates competing each year across the U.S., according to MU Health Care.
At MU, 97% of the Class of 2023 found a match, according to a news release.
While there are many residency locations throughout the U.S., 31% of the 2023 School of Medicine graduating class will stay at MU for their training. A total of 44% were placed in Missouri.
This year marked the the second year since the pandemic that Match Day was held entirely in person without facial coverings.
Prior to the pandemic — first-, second- and third-year medical students would line the windows of Acuff Atrium to watch the excitement unfold, medical student Samantha Metzger said. However, this tradition has not returned since.
Metzger and fourth-year medical student Chase Seiller are two of 18 medical students who have completed their clinicals in Springfield.
Metzger will be completing her four-year residency at the University of Iowa, where she will practice as an OBGYN.
Seiller matched with the University of Illinois-Chicago where he will complete a five-year residency practicing general surgery.
Metzger and Seiller met at Second Look Day four months before they started medical school together and have completed their medical school journeys together. Second Look Day is held by MU and many other universities to give prospective medical students additional information about the school.
While Match Day is the celebration, Metzger and Seiller said receiving the email on Monday that they matched with a residency was almost more exciting than the ceremony.
Not every graduating medical student gets matched with a residency immediately, Seiller said. Those who do not receive an email, but still want to pursue a residency have the option to apply for a supplementary offer and acceptance or a SOAP.
After applying, students can be offered a position at a residency with unfilled positions. It’s considered a more traditional job interview and application process, Seiller said.
“People feel shame and doubt of not matching and it’s not a reflection on you or your worthiness, it’s just the system and there’s a limited number of spots,” Metzger said.
After going through medical school together, Metzger and Seiller said receiving their emails and getting to open their residency envelopes at the same time meant a lot to them.
“It’s not like I matched, it’s like we matched, like my whole support system,” Metzger said. “We finally did it.”
Metzger and Seiller stood side by side as they ripped open their envelopes. Tears fell from Metzger’s eyes and balloons floated down from the balcony as they discovered together where they would be spending their next few years.
“I have no idea what it looks like,” Seiller said — but he could not hide his excitement, grinning from ear to ear.
Metzger’s family traveled from her hometown in Minnesota for the ceremony to help celebrate the culmination of her achievements and her new adventure.
“I’ve been proud of her throughout,” Metzger’s father Mark said. “I would tell her ‘Sammi, it’s going to work out, trust the process.’”
Metzger’s sister Andrea Kolb lives in St. Louis and also works in health care, which has created a way for them to bond away from home.
“We share a lot of the same day in and day out, we’re in the same boat so we can relate to each other,” Kolb said. “You see all the ups and downs, med school is such a difficult school, it’s exciting to see all her hard work pay off.”
While Metzger’s and Seiller’s residencies are in different states, they are confident in the friendships they have made and are excited for each other’s next endeavors.
“I think med school, you make friends for life,” Metzger said.
Metzger and Seiller plan on relaxing and taking trips to Italy and the Dominican Republic after graduation before beginning their residencies in June.