Weekly Features


Medical students are matched with residency programs in Match Day ceremony

Mar. 27, 2014

For 301 members of the IU School of Medicine Class of 2014, March 21 was a milestone event -- the day they learned where they would spend the next three to five years of their lives as medical residents.

But for two students, Match Day also featured a second major life event: an engagement. Shortly before students tore open their Match Day envelopes -- red letters with official match information handed out during a ceremony in the fourth floor ballroom at the IUPUI Campus Center -- Joel Franco paused in his walk across the stage to "pop the question." (She said "yes.")

"It was a complete surprise; a proposal wasn't even on my radar," said Tanya Davnani, joking she was "too busy thinking about the pot of money" normally reserved for the last student called on stage. "I definitely got something more valuable."

The couple, who met during their first year at IUSM, will both serve residencies in St. Louis -- Franco as an otolaryngology resident at the University of St. Louis and Devnani as an internal medicine resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

In addition to "rigging the system" to ensure the couple were the last to take the stage -- with the help of a few sympathetic IUSM staff and faculty -- Franco said the biggest challenge was estimating the length of his proposal before the clock struck 12 noon and everyone could finally officially learn the location of their match according to the rules set forth by the National Resident Matching Program of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers residency matches across the country. (The consolation prize -- a bedpan filled with dollars donated by fellow students -- ultimately went to the student in line before the newly engaged couple.)

"I couldn't feel better right now," Franco added. "Two of the best things in my life just happened on the same day."

Among the many other students to "meet their match" at Friday's event was Andrew Benton, a medical student whose wife, Emily, and infant daughter, Mallie, watched nervously from the sidelines along with hundreds of other family and friends who attended the event.

Benton ultimately matched at a hospital in Evansville, Ind., sending the couple back to southern Indiana after having moved to Indianapolis only three days after their marriage. Emily said Andrew interviewed at eight hospitals during his residency search -- a number she joked would have been even higher had she not gone into labor on the day of two of the interviews.

Also heading back to friends and family after opening a red envelope on Friday was Andreia Alexander, a medical student and the mother of a 2-year-old son, Nicolas. Alexander was accepted to an emergency medicine residency at Rutgers University in her home state of New Jersey.

"This whole day has been exciting, intense and overwhelming," Alexander said. "We're so happy; this program was our top choice."

Students remaining in Indiana for their residencies included Patrick Titzer, a 40-something metalworker-turned-medical student and blogger, who will serve a family medicine residency at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, and Amanda Underwood, who was accepted into an OB-GYN residency at IU Health in Indianapolis.

Underwood's husband, Daniel Russell Corson-Knowles, a graduate of the IU School of Medicine Class of 2013, is currently serving a residency in emergency medicine at IU Health. Titzer's wife, Karen, is a native of Terre Haute.

Another student to learn her match location on Friday was Ashley Suah, who will serve a general surgery residency at the University of Chicago, her top choice among the 18 programs where she interviewed.

"This whole day has felt like a dream," said Suah, who also took the stage to announce the match of Amy Dreischerf, a classmate currently participating in a medical rotation in Kenya. Dreischerf will serve a residency in anesthesia at IU Health.

Among the many student activities in which Suah and Dreischerf have been involved over the past four years is working to preserve the memory of Annique Wilson-Weeks, a beloved member of their IUSM class who would have graduated this year had she not died from a rare stomach cancer after her first year of medical school. Many members of the Class of 2014 have worked diligently to advance a scholarship fund established in Weeks' memory.

After personally handing each student their Match Day envelopes during the ceremony preceding their official opening at noon, Sheryl Allen, M.D., associate professor of clinical emergency medicine and director of medical student affairs, also took a moment to remember the one member of the Class of 2014 who could not be present at the day's event.

"If I learned anything from Annique, it was how she always stayed one of the most positive people I ever met in my life -- no matter what," Dr. Allen said. "As you enter the next phase of your journey, I want you to carry her attitude with you. Because residency is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it’s also the most rewarding."

For more facts and figures on student residency placements and specializations, see the official news release on Match Day 2014.

Juan Guzman also contributed reporting to this story.

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