For fourth-year medical students Bryan Walker and Ali McFarland, the approach of Match Day on March 17 was nerve-wracking. It is the same for every medical student in the country—the day they find out where they will spend the next several years in residency training. But Walker and McFarland, who started dating in their second year at Tufts School of Medicine, were hoping not just for placements at one of their top choices, but a match together.
Amid cries of “Oh my God!” and “Where are you going?” that filled a room in the Sackler Building as students waved sheets of paper, laughed and hugged, Walker and McFarland were all smiles: they will both do residencies in family medicine at Maine Medical Center in Portland, one of their top choices. “The best part of medical school was meeting Ali—and today,” Walker said.
They had prepared for the possibility of living and commuting between residencies in different cities. “We interviewed at all the same places, but there was a bit of worry, because at the bottom of the list, we had a few places that were different,” said McFarland. “We’re very happy to be able to be together in an awesome program; we can’t wait.”
Family is important to McFarland, who comes from a big one herself. “That’s what drives me in medicine,” she said, “to connect with people and be able to care for them and their families.” Walker feels the same. “I’d like to develop a long-term relationship with patients, to be their doctor for anything that comes up, and to take that journey with them to better health.”
An-Hoa Giang and her boyfriend, Daniel Chen, a second-year student at Tufts School of Dental Medicine, were also celebrating the news that they would be together. Giang was matched with the UMass Family Health Center of Worcester for a residency in family medicine, close enough to the dental school in Boston. “I applied broadly—Alaska, Arizona, Ohio,” Giang said. “So being able to stay in Massachusetts is a big deal.”
It’s also a big deal because Worcester is home to large immigrant populations, including Hispanic and Vietnamese communities, said Giang, whose parents moved to the United States from Vietnam three years before she was born. “I’m very happy and excited, coming from an immigrant family, to be going to the UMass Family Health Center,” Giang said. “It’s a good fit.”
As an undergraduate, Giang initially thought she would go into research. She majored in microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester and then worked as a research technician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. But then she started spending her evenings teaching English at Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter, and reading to children at Horizons for Homeless Children in Boston.
“I realized the pure sciences were not for me,” she said. “I wanted something where I would be interacting with people and helping people.”
She decided to apply to medical school, hoping to serve immigrants and refugees. As a Tufts Student Service Scholar, she has received training and support to focus particularly on communities that lack access to health care.
Giang’s close friend, Michelle Bennett, also a Tufts Student Service Scholar, was also thrilled to be headed to an area where she can help people in need: SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.
“I wanted to be in an underserved area. This is right up my alley,” said Bennett, who grew up in the Bronx. Her mother, who raised her alone, still lives there. “I’m excited to be going home,” she said.
Bethany Harvey, who is going to the University of Buffalo for general surgery, felt the same. Harvey was at Match Day with her husband, as well as her 3½-year-old and 4-month-old children, both of whom wore T-shirts that read, “No worries—my mom’s a surgeon.”
Harvey is happy to be going to the University of Buffalo, not only for its variety of hospital rotations, but because she grew up in the area and her parents live nearby. “It’s been really great, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Harvey said of her time in Boston. “But it’s time to move on.”
Monica Jimenez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.