‘Shock and excitement’: UChicago medical students celebrate 2022 Match Day

Pritzker School of Medicine students gather with family, friends to discover residency destinations

At 10:59 a.m. on March 18, everyone in the Max Palevsky Cinema at Ida Noyes Hall started counting down from 10. 

When they got to “one,” there was silence except for the sound of envelopes being ripped open. Seconds later, the room erupted with joyous cheers, group hugs and even a few happy tears.

Match Day 2022 at the University of Chicago, the highly anticipated moment when soon-to-be medical school graduates learn where they’ll be doing their residencies, was celebrated in-person this year for the first time in three years. Since COVID-19 restrictions have eased, Pritzker School of Medicine students were able to safely gather to celebrate with their classmates, teachers and family members.

Of the 78 graduating seniors from Pritzker’s Class of 2022, all were matched. The top matching schools were the University of Chicago Medicine, University of California-affiliated hospitals, and programs associated with Stanford University and the University of Washington.

Internal medicine and anesthesiology were the top two specialties, with 17 and 10 students, respectively. This year, eight students specialized in obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN), an unusually large number for Pritzker for that specialty.

The annual Match Day ritual is also a celebration of the end of medical school. For the Class of 2022, half their education took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Prof. Vineet Arora, dean for medical education of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division.

“You have risen to the call of medicine during the most challenging time in health care: the last two years of the pandemic. I always hear about how Pritzker students went above and beyond. We cannot be more proud of each of you and your incredible contributions,” Arora told the students.

Match Day also is one of the last times the tight-knit Pritzker Class of 2022 will be all together. The program featured senior superlatives, casual speeches and prizes that include the legendary “money bag” (a bag containing cash donations from the audience, given to the student who receives their envelope last). Students wore matching maroon Match Day 2022 T-shirts. A photo montage played, showing years of friendships and fun times, including jumping into Lake Michigan during the winter for the traditional Polar Plunge at Promontory Point.

The morning culminated with handing out envelopes, opened at the same time as other medical students around the country. Medical student Jay Shah was overcome with emotion when he and his classmate and partner of two years, Laura Santangelo, who participated in the “couples match,” learned they will head together to the University of California, Los Angeles, their first choice. 

“When I saw that we both had UCLA, I immediately started crying,” Shah said. “It was pure shock and excitement. We had our arms in the air, we were hugging our families, it was amazing. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Shah’s parents came in from Kansas for the event, and his brother flew in from Seattle.

“It was heartwarming to look around the room and see our family and friends celebrating. But it’s also sad that we’re all going to go our separate ways. I know we’ll all keep in touch, though. The friendships will stay,” said Shah, who is pursuing internal medicine with a focus on cardiology.

Student Jill Baranowski, who had a baby during her third year of medical school and took a year off, was thrilled to match at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. It’s where her parents live, and they can help care for her 1 1/2-year-old son while she completes her three-year residency in family medicine.

Baranowski admits she was nervous in the days leading up to Match Day, feeling like her future was out of her control. When she saw she matched with her first choice, she happily leaned into her husband and son as they all hugged.

“Match Day is such a unique thing to the medical profession. It’s a rite of passage. That’s what makes it so special,” she said, joking that within hours she'd reached out to a real estate agent in South Bend. 

Among the 16 students who will stay at UChicago Medicine is Tony Da Lomba, who matched in orthopedic surgery. As he researched residency programs, he didn't find any that he felt matched the commitment to patients and community at UChicago Medicine. 

“I’ve fallen in love with this city and didn’t want to leave. I am thrilled I'm going to be here. I am very proud to continue serving the South Side,” said Da Lomba, who, because of his training as an artist, designed the class’s T-shirts, including the one for Match Day.

Patty Simmer matched at her first choice, ChristianaCare in Delaware, one of the few places in the country that would allow her to do a residency that combines internal medicine and emergency medicine.

“I’ve been starry-eyed about their program for a long time,” she said. “The next five years are going to be a roller coaster, but I’m so excited and I’m going to be surrounded by amazing people.”

Simmer said going to medical school during the pandemic was a great learning experience, and she was impressed how much the school supported and advocated for its students.

“We learned while the whole medical community was learning. All through it, our mentors and teachers were there for us,” she said.

The virtual Match Day celebrations in 2020 and 2021 were difficult for students, Arora added. 

“The Pritzker community is their home away from home. That’s why we are so pleased to celebrate and recognize our graduating seniors in person as they begin their journey toward residency,” said Arora. “This class is truly special in their leadership and service in helping their peers, residents, faculty and surrounding community in innumerable ways during this pandemic.” 

Pritzker School of Medicine’s Class of 2022 will receive their M.D. diplomas during a convocation ceremony on June 4.

—This story was first published by the University of Chicago Medicine.