Senior med students find jobs on match day

Kim Thompson

Esther Lee waited seven years for yesterday. After spending three years at Kent State and four at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown, Lee, a senior medical student, is ready to find out where she’s going for the next few.

Yesterday was match day, the day when senior medical students across the country are given letters telling them where their residency will be. At noon, students can open the envelopes. At some schools, all students open their letters at once. At NEOUCOM, the students receive their letters one by one and read the location aloud.

Lee’s first choice is Boston University. She wanted to go somewhere she’d have a lot of classmates. She liked Boston because it’s a liberal city, and the people are opinionated and educated, Lee said.

Her mother, Lily, and her two younger brothers came to support her. Her mom had to work yesterday morning and drove 80 mph to get to the ceremony on time. Both brothers took a day off from school to be present.

Lee’s mom would like her daughter to stay in Ohio.

“On one side of my heart, I hope she’ll get into Boston, but on the other side, I don’t want her to leave,” her mother said.

At 11:45 a.m., NEOUCOM President Lois Nora gave the students some advice.

“Remember, if it wasn’t your first choice right before you open the envelope, it is your first choice right after you open the envelope,” Nora said.

Fifteen minutes seemed to take forever. Finally, Polly Moss, assistant dean for student affairs, said, “Well, my watch says it’s noon, so I think we should get started,” drawing loud applause from the crowd.

Nora drew the first name, Partho Kalyani. Kalyani marched up front and tore open his envelope. Riverside Hospital in Columbus, he announced. Kalyani then drew the next letter and that student, the next.

David Boltan’s name was drawn, but he declined to read his aloud, saying he wanted to wait for his wife, also a senior medical student at NEOUCOM, to receive her letter. He drew the next name. “Lindsay,” he read, bringing cheers from the audience. Lindsay is his wife. She’s headed to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, and he’s going to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

As each consecutive letter was drawn, audience members sat eagerly on the edge of their chairs, awaiting the name of the student to be read.

Name after name was drawn, letter after letter read, but Lee wasn’t called. One quarter of the letters gone, then half.

“Oh gosh,” Lily whispered, rubbing her face with her hands.

Lee clasped her hands nervously, ready to be called.

Finally, a student drew a letter and read, “Esther.”

Lee and her brother, Nathan, stood up. She grabbed his hand, and they walked toward the podium together. She told the audience her brother was going to read the letter because she was too nervous to do so. He opened the envelope and pulled the letter out. He said the location, but too softly for the crowd to hear. “Really?” Lee replied, disbelieving and excited.

She took the letter and read, “Internal medicine, Lenox Hill, New York City.”

Although it wasn’t her first choice, Lee said she’s thrilled anyway. And so is her mother, it seems.

“At least New York City is a drive in one day,” Lily said. “I’m going to miss her a lot, but I’m excited.”

Contact medicine reporter Kim Thompson at [email protected].