March 19, 1999

Striking the right match

Striking the right match


Juli McCay and her family – husband David, seven-year-old Chelsea and eight-year-old Matthew – discovered Thursday that Juli matched right here at Vanderbilt. (photo by Donna Jones Bailey.)


Medical School Dean, and noted canine lover, Dr. John Chapman shared a moment with Chris Sipe and nine-week-old Amber before the match began. (photo by Donna Jones Bailey.)


Chasidy Singleton and her husband, Jarvis, reacted to the news that she matched here at Vanderbilt. (photo by Donna Jones Bailey.)


Rebecca Shepherd got a helping hand from Denny Lyu. (photo by Donna Jones Bailey.)


Class president Erika Rager jumped for joy. (photo by Donna Jones Bailey.)

Match Day is usually a day for families. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are normally squeezed between anxious fourth-year students in Light Hall who find out each March where they will be spending their residency years.

But Chris Sipe expanded the definition of "family" a bit this year Ñ he and his girlfriend, Nancy Salguero, brought their nine-week-old golden retriever, Amber, along. The puppy calmly laid under a chair in 208 Light Hall and chewed on a pig's ear as Sipe walked to the front of auditorium, opened his envelope, and chose a Chicago cap from a handful of hats he had brought for the occasion. Sipe will do an Obstetrics/Gynecology residency at Northwestern University's McGaw Medical Center in Chicago.

"I thought Amber should be here with me," Sipe said, petting the puppy. "After all, we're going to the same place."

Match Day is held at the same time at every medical school across the nation. Dr. Deborah C. German, associate Dean for Students, handed out the sealed envelopes containing residency site information at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Dr. John E. Chapman, Dean of the School of Medicine, was, as usual, present for the match Ñ his 35th.

"This is never old; the excitement of a career launched is always a high point of the school year, and this year is no exception," Chapman said.

The envelopes were placed in a canvas bag, then chosen randomly by German. The Class of 1999 carried on the tradition of putting a dollar in a glass fishbowl as they received their envelope. The last medical student to receive an envelope Ñ Jaime Cintado Ñ was presented with the contents of the fish bowl by German.

The medical students started the process for the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) more than a year ago by formulating initial lists of medical centers and hospitals to be considered for application and review.

After grueling application processes and on-site interviews, residency preference lists are prepared by students and the various programs. The NRMP computer then matches programs and students to give each their best choice. Match Day is the national event when the selections are revealed at medical schools across the country.

Dr. German told the class she could tell they had been "partying" since the group is normally silent as the presentation is about to begin. This year, she had to wait until the students and their families quieted down before beginning.

"I hope you'll be respectful of each other's right to open the envelope where you choose," she told the class. "Some open them here. Some have been known to go to the men's room or lady's room, go into a stall and close the door."

Overall, 94 Vanderbilt students matched. Eighteen students, or 19 percent of the class, will be staying for residencies at Vanderbilt while 78 students, or 81 percent, will be going elsewhere.

Twenty-two students will be doing residencies in Internal Medicine; 14 in Pediatrics; nine in General Surgery; seven in Emergency Medicine; six in Obstetrics/Gynecology; five in Orthopaedic Surgery; four each in Medicine/pediatrics and Anesthesiology; three each in Family Practice, Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology; two each in Medicine-Primary, Neurology, Pathology and Psychiatry; and one each in Diagnostic Radiology, Neurosurgery, Oral Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Research and Urology.

About 65 percent of the class received their first choice. About 86 percent of the class received their first, second or third choice.

"It's a great class and the majority of them are going to first-rate programs," German said.

Mike Mugavero and Andrea Cherrington, were especially anxious about Match Day because they had applied for a "couple's match." Cherrington, daughter of Alan D. Cherrington, Ph.D., Charles H. Best Professor of Diabetes Research and chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at VUMC, and Mugavero are getting married on April 10 and will serve their residencies at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham.

"We were pretty confident about matching together but the worry was magnified when we were actually holding the envelopes in our hand."

Nerves were also a factor in how Juli McCay opened her envelope. The mother of two had planned for her son, eight-year-old Matthew, to open her match selection. But he changed his mind.

"He got nervous," she said, laughing. "I went ahead and opened the envelope, then handed it to him." McCay will serve her residency at Vanderbilt in Pathology.