School of Medicine

Match Day: A rite of passage for med students

Mark Deppe takes a cell phone image as Nicole Roberts opens her March Day letter.
Photo by Steve Zylius/University Communications
Mark Deppe, assistant director of student government at UC Irvine, captures the moment on his cell phone camera as his fiancee, Nicole Roberts, opens her letter at Friday's Match Day ceremony.

Graduate medical students glimpse the future as they learn where their careers will take them.

After endless hours of intense studying and clinical rotations, soon-to-graduate UC Irvine medical students saw their dreams come into focus on Match Day, March 21, when they learned where they will start their careers as doctors. 

Match Day is an annual activity that takes place simultaneously at all U.S. medical schools, involving about 25,000 graduating students. At UC Irvine, it’s an emotional, festive event during which the future doctors are called to a podium one at a time to open an envelope and read aloud before hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where they’ll spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training as a resident physician.

As part of this tradition, upon reaching the podium, each student places a dollar bill in a doctor’s satchel, which belonged to Dr. Robert Brown, who received it as a gift from his father upon earning his doctorate in 1951 from the osteopathic school which eventually evolved into the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Once again, UC Irvine’s graduating medical students gained residencies in some of the most competitive programs in the country. This year, 100 UC Irvine medical students participated in Match Day. They include:

  • Narina Grove, a Russian immigrant with a background in acting and opera singing, who celebrated her match with her husband and 4-year-old child. She will stay at UC Irvine Health as a pathology resident. Grove’s parents in Moscow shared in the celebration via Skype.
  • Bryce Spitze and Brenda Campos-Spitze, who came to UC Irvine’s PRIME-LC program as a married couple. They will be heading east together to family medicine residency positions at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. Moving with them are their two adorable Brittany Spaniels, Mosley and Bogart.
  • And Laura Doan, who received a double joyous surprise. After announcing her family medicine residency at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles, her fiancé, Dr. Nathanael Heckmann, 2013 School of Medicine graduate and an orthopedic surgery resident at USC, dropped to one knee to propose marriage.

This Match Day group is made up of the first class that participated in all four years of the iMedEd Initiative, a unique education program that is reinventing the traditional medical school curriculum. It was the first to build a completely digital, interactive learning environment – which includes tablet-based learning and portable ultrasound clinical training – and continues to lead in adapting emerging technologies for all aspects of classroom and clinical training. This academic year, the entire four-year curriculum has been placed on iPad, giving UC Irvine one of the first all-digital program medical schools in the nation.

Since 2010, when the initiative was launched, incoming UC Irvine medical students have received fully loaded iPads, putting at their fingertips all the information they need to read, study or review. The iPads also provide podcasts of lectures and a wealth of other instructional materials assembled for students’ course and clinical work. This multimedia approach has engendered a rich educational environment that accommodates all modes of learning, especially small group sessions.

Dr.  Ralph Clayman, dean of the School of Medicine, said that by having all aspects of the medical school curriculum on iPad, students are learning better than they have in the past.

He points to scores on the U.S. Medical School Licensing Step 1 Examination – taken at the end of the second year of medical school – as an example. This year’s graduating class scored an average of 23 percent higher than previous pre-iPad classes, despite having similar incoming GPAs and MCAT scores. The national mean score has changed little over the same time period.

This showed in the quality of the residency programs this year’s graduating class was accepted into, including leading ones at Yale University, Stanford University, Baylor College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University and UC San Francisco.

And with 2014 being the Year of the Family Physician, 14 graduating doctors from UC Irvine will enter family medicine residencies.









– Tom Vasich, University Communications