For School of Medicine Class of 2016 student Waldo Zamor, there was no place like home on Match Day 2016.
Zamor’s wife, Milka Koupenova-Zamor, PhD, studies cardiovascular disease in a lab here; their twin 7-year-olds Neva and Kai happily attend second grade in nearby Shrewsbury; and Zamor, who has been deeply involved in the Worcester community through his studies, loves UMass Medical School.
So when he tore open his envelope from the National Resident Matching Program at noon on Friday, March 18,—as 115 fellow matching students ripped open theirs—Zamor was thrilled to learn he’d gotten his top pick. He will stay home, at UMass Medical School, for his dermatology residency.
“Match Day is a very stressful time for all applicants because our fate is essentially sealed in an envelope, and we all have different preferences for a number of reasons,” said Zamor, flanked by Dr. Koupenova-Zamor, a postdoc in the lab of Jane Freedman, MD, and Neva and Kai. “I love my school, and I did hope I would get it. This is a dream come true. ”
Hundreds of family, faculty and fellow students gathered to celebrate with the Class of 2016 at the Match Day ceremony in the medical school lobby, in which each student learned where he or she would begin their careers as physicians. Match Day is the annual, nationwide pairing of graduating medical students with postgraduate residency training programs.
Graduating medical students nationwide each receive a sealed envelope containing their residency destination. The matches are made through a complex algorithm that is administered by the National Resident Matching Program that takes into account the preferences of the students and the residency programs to which they have applied. While logistics and traditions vary from school to school, the national program mandates that envelopes containing the matches cannot be opened by students before noon on the third Friday of March.
Sonia Chimienti, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine and associate dean for student affairs for the School of Medicine, read the names at the ceremony, and each student accepted his or her envelope from their house mentor, along with a heartfelt hug. And in what has become a tradition at UMass Medical School, all members of the class opened their envelopes in unison. The School of Medicine has enjoyed excellent match results over the years, with more than 50 percent of students consistently entering primary care residencies, fulfilling a key part of the school’s mission to train primary care doctors.
Dr. Chimienti said that this year 69 students, comprising 58 percent of the class, are choosing careers in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics. Adding those who matched in obstetrics & gynecology and emergency medicine, there are a total of 81 students representing 68 percent of the class entering primary care specialties. Sixty-six graduates will begin practice in Massachusetts, including 24 who are staying at UMMS.
“Because of what is in these envelopes that you are going to open, you are going to change the lives of many people. You will be at a place caring for patients and you will make a difference to them,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “We are very proud that as a graduate of our medical school you will be in that position.”
Zamor, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., and went to high school in Brockton, said he looks forward to practicing dermatology in Worcester.
“I have a really strong interest in addressing health care disparities in underserved populations,” he said. “Dermatology is an unmet need in skin of color. That’s something that UMass is interested in addressing as well, which attracted me to the program.”
“I grew up seeing a lot of dermatological diseases and poorly treated skin conditions as a child, and that’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind,” he said. “I chose UMMS to pursue my medical education because of the institution’s commitment to bettering the health of the commonwealth. I have strong interests in public service and community health, and I was able to explore and expand on those interests in population health here.”