Match Day: Sometimes the weight of something can't be measured by a scale

March 21, 2023
students dressed in costumes who are in an auditorium open envelopes
Dr. Donna Kern, senior associate dean at the College of Medicine, noted that the journey for this class of soon-to-be M.D.s had spanned 1,313 days, starting with their first day of medical school and culminating with Match Day. Photos by Sarah Pack

It’s just a small white envelope.

And yet, it holds so much. Though its contents are a single sheet of paper with a few words on it, what it represents for the people opening it is the product of years of hard work coupled with a tantalizing glimpse into the next three to seven years of their lives. 

Welcome to Match Day. Held the third Friday of March every year, it’s the day when soon-to-be M.D.s find out if they paired up with one of their top picks for residency training programs. In essence, it’s the moment they find out where their first job as a doctor will be.

At precisely 12:00 p.m., on the dot, fourth-year medical school students across the country all open their envelopes. Some cry. Some scream. Some just go silent. Euphoria works in mysterious ways. But regardless of their reactions, for all of them, that 8½-by-11-inch badge of honor is a very, very big deal. 

This year, MUSC’s College of Medicine once again held its Match Day ceremony at Charleston Music Hall, a venue just a short walk from campus, where the event has taken place for many years, with only a few exceptions (COVID forced it to be virtual in 2020 and in 2021 it was held at Riley Park). What is already a festive event often gets ratcheted up even further, thanks to outlandish annual themes. This year’s was “Heroes and Villains Assemble!” Students came dressed as their favorite good guy, bad guy or both – depending on your stance on mullets – as was the case for Will McCarter dressed as Joe Dirt.

series of three photos. at top faculty dress up as movie characters. below at left a young woman triumphantly holds her arms in the air. below right a man dressed as Thor with a giant beard pumps a fist in the air. 
Above, College of Medicine faculty got in the spirit as Haley Hopkinson (bottom left) and Caleb Shields (bottom right), aka Thor, celebrated their matches on stage at the Charleston Music Hall.

Evey Adams, a Charleston native who went to Academic Magnet, came as Princess Daisy from the Super Mario video games. Though Mario himself was conspicuously absent, she was joined by Tori Delk (Toad), Maggie Reilly (Yoshi, the loveable green dinosaur) and Morgan Hill (Luigi). Adams, who went into medical school thinking she would become a pediatrician only, eventually, to find her heart was in obstetrics and gynecology, left the event with a coveted residency at her hometown hospital – MUSC.

“This has got to be one of the best days of my life,” she said. “And I get to celebrate it with my parents, my sister and my husband. It going to be hard to top this.”

Adams’ in-game comrades and real-life friends Delk, Reilly and Hill, will keep the band together, with all three matching at MUSC for internal medicine, med-peds and cardiothoracic surgery, respectively. 

Though more than one-third of the class matched with MUSC, others were headed a little farther from home. Like Xzavier Killings, who was also celebrating his 29th birthday, announced he would be going to Pennsylvania to do his residency in pediatric medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He took a moment to thank family and friends saying, “You guys inspire me every day.”

A young man puts his fist up in triumph as he stands at a podium 
Jackson Pearce is Ivy League bound.

Or Jackson Pearce, who, dressed in full running gear along with several of his classmates – a nod to how they had each added a year of research to their medical school experiences, thus making this their “victory lap” – told the crowd he’d be doing diagnostic radiology at Yale Medicine. 

The event was a veritable who’s who in the world of superheroes, villains and movie stars. There was Wonder Woman, Ted Lasso, several Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even Nacho Libre, the Mexican luchador. College of Medicine professors and student affairs employees got into the spirit, dressed as the cute little yellow Minions, serving any- and everybody who needed assistance during the nerve-racking 90-minute event.

College of Medicine Dean Terrence E. “Terry” Steyer, M.D., who had a celebration of his own – it was his first Match Day as full-time dean – reminded students to remember that they didn’t accomplish this feat alone; they all had large support systems consisting of friends, family and faculty. And then his pride took over: “All I can say is, ‘Wow! I’m amazed at all you have accomplished. I’m amazed at all you will accomplish.’”

Steyer and team were pleased to report that 99% of the college’s 158 graduating students secured a residency position. Of the specialties in which students will be pursuing their training, categorical internal medicine led the way with the highest number of students at 21 (13.3% of the graduating class). Other popular specialties included pediatrics (9.5%), family medicine (8.9%), diagnostic radiology (7.6%) and anesthesiology (7%). 

A young woman dressed in green with an orange painted face speaks at a podium 
Ana Montoya gave a special shout out to her grandmother in Colombia, South America, who was watching a live stream of the event.

Members of the class also matched into highly competitive residency programs across the U.S., including the University of California-San Francisco, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Duke, Brown, Stanford, NYU and Boston University, just to name a few.

The Class of 2023 also included nine students who will enter military service, beginning their residencies at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base just outside of Dayton, Ohio; Madigan Army Medical Center near Lakewood, Washington; Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada; Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.

Class president Ana Montoya, who came as Princess Fiona from “Shrek,” eloquently summed up the day’s festivities as she fought to keep her orange wig from falling off: “While this doesn’t define us, today certainly is worth celebrating. Every one of you are worth celebrating. Because this is a really big deal, a great achievement. And you should all be very proud.”