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161 Medical Students Learned their Future During 2023 Match Day

Fourth-year medical students and their families gathered in the Mooney and Nash buildings on the Memphis campus to celebrate Match Day 2023.

There was an early morning buzz of anticipation and nerves at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s campus last Friday, as the College of Medicine prepared for its annual Match Day ceremony. In a few moments, there would be a flurry of screams and tears of joy reverberating throughout the Mooney Library and the Nash Annex, as 161 fourth-year medical students opened the envelopes that revealed where they would continue their medical training.

In a room decorated for St. Patrick’s Day, students stood with their families and friends in anticipation. As the countdown to 11 a.m. neared, Raven Okechuku-Wachuku stood with her family nervously watching the clock and anticipating where she would be spending her next few years. “It’s so nerve-wracking. I’ve had the longest week of my life,” she said seconds before learning she’d matched into the psychiatry program at the University of Arkansas.

The smiles were contagious during the morning celebration for Match Day.

The Class of 2023 had 161 successful placements in residency positions, with 44% going into primary care, 23% into surgery, and 33% into non-primary care specialties.

Emily Grimes, who matched at Baylor College of Medicine in pediatrics, had been waiting for this moment for four years. “However, it can’t be lost how hard we have worked to get here and how much support we have in this room from our family and friends, as well as the faculty at the College of Medicine.”

Across the country on the third Friday of March each year, future doctors look forward to the tradition of Match Day, the day when they find out where they will spend the next three to seven years in residency. The National Resident Matching Program determines where students will be matched based on a monthslong process of applications, interviews, and ranking of their preferred programs. The UTHSC College of Medicine’s students were among nearly 43,000 students who matched nationwide this year.

Executive Dean of the UTHSC College of Medicine Scott Strome, MD, expressed his pride in all the graduates and especially in the parents, families, loved ones, and friends who supported the journey. “Our students matched into some of the top programs across the country and we are so proud,” he said. “We hope that our students will keep the UTHSC College of Medicine close to their hearts as they move forward in their careers.”

Executive Dean Scott Strome, center in gold jacket, congratulated both the students and their parents for their efforts to get to Match Day.

Students and their families celebrated with Dean Strome, Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, and other college faculty members.

Those like Theresa Dinh, who matched into the surgery residency program at UTHSC, were delighted to stay close to home. “It’s only fitting that we end this journey four years after we started it with our white coat ceremony, celebrating each other and our successes, our accomplishments, and our goal to be the next leaders in health care in Tennessee,” she said.

Among the 161 students who matched this year, 35% will remain in Tennessee, and 29% will remain at UTHSC to complete their residency training.

Chattanooga’s Pinata Reveal

The Match Day celebration on the Chattanooga campus had a fun twist. The students chose a pinata in advance, their match letters were placed inside, and they had their choice of instrument to use to break them and find their results.

The Chattanooga campus did not hold back on its Match Day festivities with each of the five students finding out their residency locations by opening piñatas hung on IV poles and containing their letters. They could break the pinatas with their instrument of choice. One student used an exam study book.

They finished their celebration with reminders of how far they have come. “Each part of medical school challenged you in new and different ways, however you have completed each step, while giving back in so many ways,” said Assistant Dean for Well-Being and Medical Student Education Mukta Panda, MD. “And you did it while facing something seemingly insurmountable — you finished medical school and completed every step of your clinical curriculum during a worldwide pandemic.”

Lucky 7 in Knoxville

Match Day in Knoxville took place downtown, where the seven students and their families celebrated at Maple Hall.

In downtown Knoxville, the seven future physicians of the UT Graduate School of Medicine gathered at Maple Hall and received words of encouragement from Interim Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education Paige Johnson, MD, and Interim Dean of the UT Graduate School of Medicine Robert Craft, MD. Of these seven students, two matched into the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, with others matching into top programs nationwide, including Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

By the Numbers

161 Total UTHSC College of Medicine students matched

35% of all students matched in Tennessee

29% of students matched into UTHSC residency programs

44% of students matched into primary care

23% of students matched into surgery

33% of students matched into non-primary care