Medical students meet their match


Four years ago, if you asked Justin Fiala where he’d be this summer, he never would have predicted it.

Fiala was one of 166 fourth-year Chicago campus medical students gathered Friday at the Mid-America Club at the Aon Center to learn their fate: where they will train for their medical residency program.

Fiala matched at his first choice: internal medicine, Mayo Clinic.

“Mayo Clinic has world experts, and the opportunity to learn from them and hone my skills at a place like that is just fantastic and really beyond my dreams,” Fiala said.

Since last summer, medical students all over the U.S. have been preparing for Match Day, applying and interviewing with medical programs across the country. They rank their top programs and the medical programs rank their top candidates.

With a mix of nerves and excitement, the students opened envelopes at 11 a.m. Friday to find out where they were headed.

“The magic of Match Day is because you really feel like you have not all that much control over the situation,” Fiala said. “It’s a huge relief to feel like the past four years plus have been leading up to this.”

Nearly 16,400 students at medical schools nationwide were matched to residencies this year through the National Resident Matching Program.

Of UIC’s Chicago campus students, 39 percent will stay in Illinois for their residency programs, with the rest off to medical centers in 26 states. The top specialties for the UIC match were internal medicine (16 percent), family medicine (16 percent), emergency medicine (9 percent), anesthesiology (7 percent) and general surgery (7 percent).

Fifty students from the College of Medicine’s Rockford campus, 48 from Peoria and 24 at the Urbana-Champaign campus received their placements on Match Day.

The top five hospital placements for students from the Chicago campus were UIC, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola and Rush.

Student on Match Day at the Rockford Campus

Kandace Walker, a student at the UIC College of Medicine at Rockford, hugs her mother after learning she’d matched in pediatrics at University of Missouri.

Nathan Stackhouse is one of the 16 percent of students who will stay at UIC. He’s excited to start his training in family medicine.

“UIC was, for me, by far the best in Chicago,” he said. “I get to be at a big academic center with a bunch of other residents. UIC just does a great job, I think, of serving the underserved, which is something that was really important for me.

“I definitely feel ready to get going.”

Celeste Cruz will stay at UIC, training in general surgery for five years.

“I get to work with a very diverse population in an urban setting and it’s always been my goal to work with a diverse community,” she said.

She’s expecting an “intense” first year of training.

“I’m just really prepared to work hard and learn,” she said.

“I feel really excited to start my intern year and finally use that MD that we’ll get in May.”

Al Yang received his top choice: training in radiology at University of California, Irvine. He felt good about his chances after hitting it off with program directors during his interview.

“I felt like I was at home there,” he said.

Janai Carr is happy to be headed back to California after matching in internal medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. Carr, who graduates with an MD/Ph.D., plans to complete an oncology fellowship after her residency program.

“I’m looking forward to starting the next chapter — finishing up the school part and actually start practicing,” she said.

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