Even at a (Social) Distance, UCSF School of Medicine Class of 2020 Match Day is Virtually Perfect

March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020 | By Lesley Snyder


A Pioneering Class

During the first Match Day celebration of its kind, the UCSF School of Medicine class of 2020 logged onto their computers the morning of Friday, March 20 to be greeted by a video from Catherine Lucey, MD, MACP, Executive Vice Dean and Vice Dean for Medical Education.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the matches you have made. Most importantly, we couldn’t be prouder of what outstanding UCSF medical students you have been throughout your pioneering careers here – as the first Bridges class and as the first class to ever have a virtual Match Day.”

Catherine Lucey, MD, MACP

Executive Vice Dean, UCSF School of Medicine
Vice Dean for Medical Education

Dr. Lucey continued: “This virtual celebration wasn’t exactly in the plans, but I know you will adapt to this change just as you have so many changes along the way. And you will do so with the incredible wisdom, strength, and professionalism you have shown us since you started.”

Traditionally learners have gathered in person as a class, joined by UCSF School of Medicine leadership and loved ones, to rip open their envelopes in tandem and pull out a single, folded sheet of paper that reveals where they'll go for residency. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to practice social distancing, the tearing open of envelopes was replaced by a special email that hit inboxes at 9 a.m., prompting online celebrations and the sharing of photos and videos using #UCSFmatch2020.

At her home in Los Angeles, Nhi Ho set up a video call with her five best friends in medical school and watched the video from Dean Lucey together, as they reminisced about how far they have come. At 8:58 a.m., the email from NRMP came and one by one, they all found out they had matched into their top choices.

"We got to cheer together, toast, and then call close families and friends. While I wish I could have celebrated Match Day in person with my classmates, coaches, and advisors, I am still grateful that I was able to share this moment, virtually."

Nhi Ho

UCSF Medical Student

“I am ecstatic that I am going to become an anesthesiologist at USC-LAC," Ho said. "It is a tenuous time to start residency, but I'm excited to train extensively in LA county and care for the underserved and the community that took my family in when we immigrated here 18 years ago. I am thankful for everyone who helped me get here – especially UCSF for believing in me.”

Record Year

The 2020 Main Residency Match was the largest in National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) history. A record-high 40,084 applicants submitted program choices for 37,256 positions, the most ever offered in the match. The number of available first-year (PGY-1) positions rose to 34,266, an increase of 2,072 (6.4%) over 2019. The increase in positions was due in part to the last migration of osteopathic program positions into the Main Residency Match.

The process began last spring when students decided on their specialties, registered, and submitted applications. They interviewed throughout the winter and in February submitted a ranking of their choices, based on their desired specialty and geographic location. In fall, residency programs reviewed applications and invited shortlist candidates to interview, and then created their own rankings in advance of Match Day.

This year, all 158 graduating UCSF School of Medicine students matched to clinical training, internship, or residency programs at hospitals. Sixty-five, or 41 percent of the class, were accepted to fields related to primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics, and the other 59 percent matched in non-primary care specialties, including emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and obstetrics & gynecology.

Seventy-three percent of the class will continue their medical education journeys in the Bay Area and across the state. The rest of the class will complete their training in leading hospitals in 18 other states across the country.

Gratitude in Uncertain Times

At home with family, Rasheed Alhadi took a break from watching live coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, to reveal his match.

We often see emergency physicians addressing and educating the public about this pandemic. [The COVID-19 outbreak] has reaffirmed my decision to have selected emergency medicine. Thank you to my mentors, advisors, and peers who have supported and guided me. It really does take a village, and I was lucky enough to have a fantastic one at UCSF.

Rasheed Alhadi

UCSF Medical Student

After canceling travel plans because of the pandemic, Celia Haering spent Match Day at her parents' home in Anchorage, Alaska.

“I am in the first class of students to be completing the new Bridges curriculum at UCSF, and am so proud of our entire class for pioneering the challenges that come with a curricular overhaul,” said Haering.

“It is strange to be finishing medical school in the midst of a pandemic that is testing our health systems, as well as our social contracts. However, it makes me all the more grateful for the incredible effort that the UCSF School of Medicine leadership has put into developing a curriculum to train doctors who understand medicine within contexts of our patients' lives and our society's structures.”

Celia Haering

UCSF Medical Student