KU graduating medical students celebrate Match Day 2023
On Match Day, fourth-year medical students across the country find out where they will begin their residency training.
Nearly 200 graduating students from the University of Kansas School of Medicine’s three campuses celebrated a rite of passage on March 17. And it wasn’t learning an Irish step dance or drinking their first green beer.
On this day, known as “Match Day,” these students, along with more than 40,000 other fourth-year medical students across the United States, found out where they will spend the next three to seven years completing their residency training and in what specialty.
Held the third Friday of every March, Match Day is the culmination of the annual efforts of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), a nonprofit organization founded in 1952 to pair applicants for residencies with the preferences of the residency programs at institutions across the country. With nearly 43,000 students placed in residency programs, the NRMP reported that 2023 was the largest match in their 70-year history.
It certainly was a big day in the lives of the graduating KU medical students in Kansas City, Salina and Wichita, who revealed their matches to each other as well as to family and friends at each campus’s ceremony. This year, 196 total KU students matched in programs across the country, 60 of whom will complete their residencies in Kansas. The remaining 136 will train in 38 other states.
In Kansas City
“[Today] is an affirmation of the choice that you made, a choice about specialty, a choice about where you are going for additional training. And it’s also an affirmation about the choice that you made to come to KU School of Medicine,” Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, executive dean of KU School of Medicine, said to the Class of 2023 at the Match Day ceremony in the Health Education Building on the Kansas City campus. “As the Class of 2023 celebrates today, keep in mind that KU School of Medicine will continue to be part of your foundation of being physicians, a journey that you continue today with a new milestone.”
For Amber Smith, that foundation includes serving the underserved. Smith, who chose KU School of Medicine in part because of the opportunities the school provided to do just that, has been a member of the executive board of the JayDoc Free Clinic during medical school. Smith matched in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “It was my top choice due to its emphasis on the intersection between social justice and medicine,” she said. “I’ve also always wanted to live in California due to its proximity to nature and outdoor activities. I’ve never visited San Francisco but I’m so excited to see what it has to offer!”
For other students, staying closer to home is just as exciting. Carlos Guzman, who grew up in the Kansas City area and chose KU for medical school because of its emphasis on rural medicine and primary care, matched with the Smoky Hill Family Medicine Residency in Salina, Kansas. “I am so happy about it! It’s close to Kansas City, and my dad grew up there,” he said.
As an Air Force Health Professions scholarship recipient, Elizabeth Weesner found out where she matched in December, when the “military match” takes place. She was sick with the flu that day, so she was looking forward to celebrating with her classmates on March 17. Unfortunately, thanks to a snowboarding accident, she had surgery on her ankle instead. But she’s looking forward to heading to San Antonio Military Medical Center, where she will do a preliminary transition year before training in diagnostic radiology.
“I have a lot of great memories of San Antonio from when my family lived there for a few years,” she said, “so I’m very happy to be heading back.”
KU School of Medicine-Salina held their Match Day celebration at the Salina Arts Center.
Savanna Cox, who grew up in Beloit, Kansas, said she had exposure to the Salina campus in high school through events such as “Doc for a Day,” which aims to inspire teens to pursue a career in medicine. When she began medical school, she knew wanted to practice in rural primary care, and she is excited about having matched in family medicine at McKay-Dee Hospital Center in Ogden, Utah.
Nathaniel Anderson was an EMT and emergency room technician before beginning medical school on KU’s Salina campus. He was drawn to the small class size in Salina, and he had worked in health care in the area and was excited at the prospect of learning from the physicians one on one. On Match Day, he found out that he and his wife and three children will be moving to West Virginia, where he will begin a residency in general surgery at Charleston Area Medical Center. “I’m thrilled,” he said. “My family and I are very excited about the move.”
Fourth-year medical students from the Wichita campus gathered with friends and family at an event space known as Distillery 244 to reveal where they will head after graduation in May.
Coral Walker, a graduating student from Hutchinson, Kansas, completed both his undergraduate and medical school years at KU, but he’s headed to the University of Vermont to train in pediatrics. “I wanted to become a doctor so I could pay it forward for my experience as a childhood cancer survivor,” he said. “It’s a privilege to care for others through this profession, and I hope to provide the same selfless and empathetic care to my future patients that I received as a child.”
For Candice Metzinger, a Wichita native, Match Day represented another step in her career switch. Metzinger, who had begun a career working in business and finance, didn’t begin medical school until age 30, after she realized she wanted a career where she could be a lifelong learner as well as actively help improve her community. She chose KU for medical school because of its reputation and her desire to have clinical experiences in Kansas, where she plans to practice. Metzinger matched in family medicine at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
“I feel great about my match,” Metzinger said. “Wesley is an outstanding program and was my No. 1 choice. I am so excited to be joining the (residency) Class of 2026 and am anxious to get started!”