On Friday, fourth-year students at Harvard Medical School learned where they will spend the next few years in residency, marking a major milestone in their health care careers.
Known as “Match Day,” the annual event is organized by the National Resident Matching Program, and occurs every third Friday in March. All applicants must undergo an application and interview process in order to be matched by the Main Residency Match system.
Using a mathematical algorithm, the assignment system matches residency candidates with programs, based on both the candidates’ and programs’ ranking preferences of each other. According to the NRMP, the system is “100% objective, 100% accurate, and 100% committed to a fair and transparent process.”
Typically, HMS hosts an in-person ceremony for Match Day that family members can attend. However, due to the pandemic, the celebration was moved to Zoom.
Ryoko Hamaguchi, a student at HMS who matched to the Harvard Plastic Surgery Residency Program, said despite the circumstances, she found the event meaningful.
“We had a big class-wide Zoom with the dean of the school, all of our classmates, and we would all open the email at the same time,” she said. “It was virtual, but I think that sensation of community was still there and I’m glad that I was able to enjoy it.”
Hamaguchi said she chose plastic surgery after being “blown away” by the diversity of the specialty’s procedures. She added that immediately after receiving her placement, she turned her camera off and cried tears of joy.
“I was thrilled that I was matched into my top choice program and the fact that I believe that this program will make me a fantastic, great surgeon who can take care of a lot of patients,” Hamaguchi said. “But I was also really happy that I matched into a family of people that were instrumental in me becoming interested in plastic surgery.”
Anthony Tucker-Bartley, another student at HMS, said he was “excited” when he learned that he was matched to the Massachusetts General Hospital Anesthesia Residency Program.
“As soon as I got the news, I just started laughing because when I’m excited, I really laugh,” he said. “In that moment, I was just thinking about my family and how far we’ve come and what it means for them as well.”
Tucker-Bartley said he aspires to become “the best clinician” he can be.
“In general, my main three career goals is really teaching, mentorship, and research,” he said. “Along the way, I plan to also educate future med students, undergraduates as well, and also serve as a mentor throughout the process.”
Sepideh Ashrafzadeh, a student at HMS who matched to the Harvard Combined Dermatology Residency Training Program, said she reacted with excitement and gratitude.
“I’ve just been thinking about how grateful I am for having gotten to this place, because it really did take a village to get to here,” she said. “Each step, I’ve had teachers, mentors, family members, friends who’ve all supported me to get to where I am today, and without them, I wouldn’t have gotten here.”
Ashrafzadeh also reflected on how she believes a positive learning mindset contributes to success in professional medicine.
“It’s not necessarily school rank or prestige that matters most — it’s just what you make of the experience,” she said. “If you go in with the attitude of ‘I’m just going to make the most of this experience’ in terms of exploring myself, in terms of making friends, in terms of finding amazing mentors, you’re going to have a wonderful medical experience.”