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Match Day 2017: Cheers, tears and a diamond ring

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March 17, 2017

Rhodes Scholar and FSU football All-American Myron Rolle will be pursuing neurosurgery at Harvard. Eight students are enrolling in FSU College of Medicine-sponsored residency programs. More than half of the newest graduates will be entering primary care. And for the first time in five years, a brave young man popped the “Will you marry me?” question in front of hundreds of surprised, delighted strangers.

Those are a few of the highlights from “Harry Potter”-themed Match Day 2017, which took place today in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. Like other fourth-year med students throughout the country, these FSU students found out which residency programs they’ll join for the next phase of their medical training.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

  • Of the 117 students from the Class of 2017 who entered the match, 60 chose primary care (family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics-gynecology or pediatrics).
  • In fact, the No. 1 specialty for this class was OB-GYN (17), followed by family medicine (16), internal medicine (14), emergency medicine (13) and pediatrics (12).
  • Other students matched in anesthesiology (nine), psychiatry (seven), general surgery (seven) and orthopedic surgery (five), among other specialties.
  • Slightly more than a third matched in Florida, a state that ranks 42nd nationally in the number of available residency slots. To help address the issue, the College of Medicine has been partnering with institutions around the state to sponsor more residency programs.
  • Eight students matched in residency programs sponsored by the College of Medicine: three in the surgery program at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, three in the internal medicine program at TMH, one in the dermatology program at Dermatology Associates and one in the family medicine program at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers.
  • Besides the students mentioned above, two other students matched in Tallahassee – at TMH’s family medicine residency program.
  • Among the other Florida programs where College of Medicine students matched were Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami (six), University of Florida Health-Jacksonville (five), UF Health-Gainesville (four), Orlando Health (four) and the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine (two).
  • After Florida, the states where the most Class of 2017 students matched were North Carolina (13), Alabama (seven), Georgia (7), New York (6) and Virginia (6).
  • Students heading out of state matched with superior residency programs. Besides Harvard, they included the Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt, Emory, Duke, Wake Forest, Brown, Georgetown, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, NYU, Thomas Jefferson University and many more.
  • Seven students participated in a separate military match: four in the Navy, two in the Air Force and one in the Army.
  • One student participated in a separate ophthalmology match.

Here’s how the nationwide match works: Through the computerized National Resident Matching Program, students electronically rank the residency programs where they interviewed, and residency program directors rank the students. Residency training, which lasts at least three years depending on the specialty, is the rigorous and required next step for M.D. students who want to become practicing physicians.

Though the College of Medicine’s Match Day ceremony lasted close to two hours, the heart of the action took place in about three minutes of chaos, when most students opened their envelopes to find out where they’d spend the next three to seven years. Shouts rang out, tears flowed, cameras flashed, hugs abounded. Later, one regional campus at a time, most of the students went onstage to reveal their residency destination. Quite a few increased the suspense by waiting until they get onstage to open their envelopes.

And this year, perhaps more than ever, they brought a lot of company. Siblings, parents, grandparents, even little children took to the stage. Some even opened the envelope.

Girlfriend Whitney Davis opened student Blake Davis’ envelope only to find a surprise inside: an authentic-looking match letter that read, “Turn around.” Confused, she turned around. Blake (yes, they have the same last name) was down on one knee behind her, smiling like crazy and offering her a diamond ring and a proposal of marriage – which, thank goodness, she accepted. The audience ate it up. When Dean John P. Fogarty came back to the microphone to bring up a batch of students from the next regional campus, he joked, “OK, Sarasota, can you top that?”

Later in the program, Myron Rolle had his own memorable moment onstage. His father recounted Myron’s remarkable series of achievements since his arrival at FSU. He was an All-American and BET Male College Athlete of the Year in 2008. Rather than entering the NFL draft, he spent the next year earning his MSc in medical anthropology from Oxford University. In 2010 he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, and his career in pro football lasted until 2013 – the year he entered med school. Journalists from the Washington Post and elsewhere were there to record his latest milestone: He’s heading to Harvard to pursue neurosurgery.

Other moments at the microphone:

  • “I wouldn’t be standing here if not for these wonderful people,” Sam Jalali said about his family – a sentiment echoed by nearly every student, sometimes with tears.
  • Jason Lesnick matched in emergency medicine at University of Texas Medical School at Houston – just like his brother, Class of 2012 alumnus Joseph Lesnick, who joined him onstage.
  • When Zachary Rogozinski’s dad opened the match letter to see Atlanta Medical Center was his son’s destination, he shouted, “It’s where I trained! I’m proud of you.”
  • Joe Pepitone announced he had matched in Vermont … and immediately donned a stocking cap.
  • Avi Assidon announced he had matched in Chicago … and immediately donned a Cubs cap.
  • Diana Mosquera’s parents came all the way from Colombia to be there.
  • Alex Herbst and Torrie Reynolds-Herbst walked onstage with their 8-week-old child.
  • While Emily Kaltz was still tearing into her envelope, her dad indicated he was already pleased, flashing two thumbs up and exclaiming, “She has a job!”
  • Theo Strom, whose hometown is Jacksonville, proudly shouted that he’d be pursuing emergency medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville. Whereupon his ecstatic mom stepped up and cried, “Oh, I get to feed him every night!”

On May 20, the 118 students in the Class of 2017 will become the 13th class to graduate from the College of Medicine — which will then have 1,147 alumni.

Photo above: Myron Rolle with his mother and brother

Photo on front page: Blake Davis proposes to Whitney Davis

To view a video of Match Day (viewing it on Explorer works best):
http://lectures.med.fsu.edu/tcs/#page:recordingList&pageNumber:1&id:671F507F-45FF-416E-8EAE-FAA4A93BDD10

To see where the Class of 2017 matched: 
http://med.fsu.edu/userFiles/file/2017%20FINAL%20individual%203_20_17.pdf

To see where past College of Medicine graduates are practicing:
http://med.fsu.edu/alumni/alumni.aspx?class=2016