Tears, shouts erupt on ‘match day' as UF medical students move into careers


Jessica Greer gets excited as she looks for her letter at the University of Florida College of Medicine's Match Day at the Reitz Union on Friday in Gainesville.

Lee Ferinden/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.

“Harvard” Martin Goetz whispered into his mobile phone in a corner of the packed, silent Reitz Union Rion Ballroom at lunchtime on Friday.

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Jessica Greer gets excited as she looks for her letter at the University of Florida College of Medicine's Match Day at the Reitz Union on Friday in Gainesville.

Lee Ferinden/The Gainesville Sun

Goetz’s daughter Jennifer, a University of Florida medical student, had just learned that she would be going to Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital for her residency in psychiatry, and her father was relaying the news to her grandmother.

It was big news for him — especially since Jennifer, unlike the rest of her class, didn’t share with anyone the list of places she wanted to do her residency, not even Dad.

“It wasn’t easy,” Jennifer Goetz said, adding that her dad tried to get her to tell him. “He said when you’re ready to share yours, I’ll share mine,” and would send her password-encrypted lists.

But Jennifer wouldn’t budge.

“I have amazing self-control,” she said, beaming. That secrecy made Friday extra exciting for the Goetzes — especially since Harvard was Jennifer’s first choice.

“Match day” is a big moment in a medical student’s life — the transition between studenthood and the reality of becoming a practicing physician. For the next two months — until graduation on May 11 — students will find a place to live in their residency cities. Some will get married, and UF had five student couples matched together.

“Great things come from this day,” Dr. Michael Good, dean of the UF College of Medicine, said.

Good added that all 127 students in the graduating class got matched — many with their first choices. They will go to hospitals throughout the country, with 25 students staying at UF and 38 in Florida.

In addition, 163 students from around the country were matched to UF at noon on Friday. The matching ceremony takes place at all medical schools around the country at the same time, and the UF ceremony was being webcast for students’ family members around the world.

One student thanked her family in India; one immigrant son thanked his parents, who accompanied him on stage, for bringing him to this country, where he could fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.

Parents snapped photos and embraced their children, some of whom jumped up and down when they opened their envelopes and announced their fate for the next several years.

The Ong family of Jacksonville arrived just in time.

“We got here at 11:51 because my dad just got out of surgery,” said Christopher Ong, who will be doing his residency in psychiatry at UF. His father’s a plastic surgeon and his mother an anesthesiologist.

“He knew what the hours were like. We showed him all the worst things about becoming a doctor, but he wanted to do it,” Dr. Francis Ong said of his son.

For Richard Schatz, entering the medical field like his father, Dr. Desmond Schatz, seemed predetermined as well.

“I used to go to the clinical research center (at UF) with my dad on Sunday mornings, tag along with him to diabetes camps,” said Richard Schatz, who will be doing his residency in internal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Richard Schatz said he wasn’t pressured into medicine, though, and that he started college intending to study finance. But in the end, medicine pulled him in.

“It’s what he knew,” his father said.

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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