Smiles and Selfies
COM medical students learn their professional destinies during Match Day 2016
By Megan Kimmel
Sheila McThenia, a fourth-year medical student and mother of four boys, decided to open her residency match envelope with her husband before announcing it to her classmates. Sheila wanted to share where she will go for residency with her four children first.
McThenia picked up the envelope and stepped to the side of the crowd collecting their envelopes at the front of the ballroom. She opened the envelope with her husband and smiled as they hugged one another. Then she put the letter back into the envelope and into the black, square bin that held all students’ envelopes — opened or unopened. The couple made their way back to their table to await their turn to take the stage and announce Sheila’s pediatric residency program.
More than 400 students, family, friends, faculty and staff gathered in March to learn the professional fates of the UF College of Medicine’s graduating medical students. The students have spent the past few months preparing for this day, applying to as many as 40 programs each and traveling across the country for interviews. The excitement of Match Day 2016, the day these students learned where they will continue their medical training after graduation, was palpable at the Wyndham Garden Gainesville.
Laughing and smiling, taking selfies with one another, students posed for photos with their parents in front of orange and blue balloons.
Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine, welcomed the crowd, sharing his own Match Day experience at the University of Michigan.
“I cannot convey how profound this moment is we are about to share together. I remember my marriage; I remember my children being born; and I remember this day 32 years ago. Like you all are about to do, I picked up an envelope that said I was going to the University of Florida for my anesthesiology training,” Good said. “Take a moment and be proud of yourself.”
With 125 students participating in the Match, 25 percent received residencies at the UF College of Medicine and 34 percent will stay in the state of Florida.
Student Hussain Khalid crossed onto the stage, and his sister held up an iPhone as he told the crowd his parents and little sister were watching the livestream video of Match Day from Saudi Arabia, an eight-hour time difference. They watched on two computer screens, as well as on FaceTime, as Khalid opened his envelope and read his first-choice match in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
When it was McThenia’s turn to take the stage, she announced to her classmates she would be attending the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. McThenia is a cancer survivor, who nine years ago was given a 50 percent chance to live five years and 20 percent chance to live 10 years.
“Mayo Clinic was my No. 1 choice,” McThenia said. “Actually, even before I started med school, it was my dream to go to Mayo and train there.”
After her residency in pediatrics, McThenia will complete a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology.
“I’m very excited for Sheila to be able to train at one of the most profoundly influential clinics in the world,” said her husband, Tom McThenia.
As the last envelope was read by Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, the final student to cross the Match Day stage happened to be the 2016 class president, Carl Herndon. Holding back tears, Herndon introduced his wife, Janna, thanked his family and announced his orthopaedic surgery residency at Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“I don’t want to forget my classmates; you have been such a wonderful family to me,” said Herndon.
It was a very successful match for UF programs as well as students, with 196 new residents starting their training in Gainesville and 89 at the UF Health program in Jacksonville beginning in July.