Emotions run high at UND Match Day
Since graduating from Red River High School in 1996, Kelly Graziano has earned a college degree with a major in Spanish. She has spent two years in Romania with the Peace Corps. And she has completed four years in the UND School of Medicine and H...
Since graduating from Red River High School in 1996, Kelly Graziano has earned a college degree with a major in Spanish. She has spent two years in Romania with the Peace Corps. And she has completed four years in the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
After she graduates in May, she will take her brand-new M.D. degree and go to Salt Lake City, where she will be a resident at the University of Utah Affiliated Hospital.
She is one of 55 UND medical students who found out on Match Day where she will complete her medical training. Match Day is held at medical schools all around the country on the third Thursday of March.
It is a day packed with excitement - a day that seemed surreal to Kathryn Polovitz, who got the match she dreamed of when she was accepted to be a neurology resident at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. She was interviewed by 13 different programs and Colorado, she says, was "hands-down my favorite place."
Add that to the fact that her best friend at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where she graduated four years ago, is also going to Colorado, and you can see why Polovitz was busy on her cell phone telling friends and family about her good fortune. Her mother was with her for the matching, and they quickly called her father, Grand Forks physician Tom Polovitz.
Although unheralded, Match Day is a high point in the lives of medical students. Since seniors at UND Medical School are spread out in centers at Fargo, Bismarck and Minot, the local Match Day gatherings are smaller than at large schools. The emotion is high.
Dr. Jon Allen, Northeast Campus Dean, on Thursday told 14 seniors on the main campus in Grand Forks, "We are going to miss you guys and I hope you realize that it's tough for faculty when you leave."
He gets calls all of the time asking if he can send more North Dakota graduates to their residencies.
"If you get out there and find you are not clinically prepared, you can come back here and I will take you to dinner at Sanders," he said. "Every one of you will be well qualified in your chosen field. I can promise that you are very well qualified."
Then, it was time for the envelopes to be passed out. There was a drum roll. The room was dead quiet. Then, you could hear envelopes being torn open. There were giggles, whoops of joy and some sweet silence. There were no tears of sadness.
Hope Cleland, who was thinking of a residency in internal medicine at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wis., found out she was matched as a resident at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine program in Sioux Falls.
After the initial surprise, she said she is looking forward to the next phase of her life. She grew up in Colorado. She spent six years in the Air Force and decided when she was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base that she would like a career in medicine. She spent the past four years of medical school in Grand Forks, Fargo and Valley City. Since she has lupus, she has an interest in specializing in rheumatology.
Medical students are a diverse group of people. Most of them were at or near the top of their undergraduate classes before they were admitted to medical school. Some of them have families. More than half of them are women. By the time they are seniors, they are a mature and self-directed group of people.
Most of them also are deeply in debt. The average UND medical student finishes with a debt load of $110,000 to $120,000.
That's part of the reason Match Day is so monumental for them. As resident doctors, they will at last be earning salaries in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 - not enough to start paying off loans, but maybe enough to live on. And they are able to defer their student loans while in residency.