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Celebrating a Record-Breaking Match

Bella Vishnevsky and Abby Kerson stood side by side, counted to three, then together ripped open envelopes that would reveal their futures in medicine. A smile emerged ear to ear on Vishnevsky’s face. Tears gathered in Kerson’s eyes as she hugged her mom, standing nearby, and FaceTimed with her sister.

After four years of medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College, Vishnevsky and Kerson are now both set to become anesthesiologists, matching to residency programs at Duke University Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center — their first choices.

“I’m beyond ecstatic,” Vishnevsky said. “It’s the culmination of my entire life. I always wanted to be a doctor and the fact that I got my first choice was a sign that I made the right choice.”

Graduating medical students (from left) John Paddock, Maya Madhavan and Ramya Tadipatri celebrate their residencies in neurology with career adviser Dr. Joseph Safdieh. All photos: Travis Curry

Vishnevsky and Kerson joined 93 of their fellow medical students in the Weill Cornell Medical College Class of 2017 who learned on national Match Day where they will be doing their internship and residency training — the next three to seven years of their medical careers.

This year's match, announced March 17, was the largest on record, with 18,539 graduating allopathic medical students from across the country and an additional 15,943 graduating international and osteopathic medical students, as well as Americans studying abroad, all competing for some 31,000 residency positions, according to the National Resident Matching Program.

Weill Cornell Medicine celebrated one of its best matches ever, with 100 percent of the class matching to postgraduate positions. Some 87 percent matched to academic medical centers ranked in the top 50 by U.S. News & World Report. Cheers, applause and the pop of champagne corks reverberated around Griffis Auditorium as the students celebrated.

“What we are most proud of are all of you,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “All of you worked so hard in your endeavors. This is your day. You make us proud.”



(From left)Cindy Parra, Emilie Williamson and Mesha Shaw celebrate their matches. Parra is set to spend a yearlong internship at UC Irvine Medical Center, then returning to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell for a residency in dermatology. “I’m really thrilled to be staying at Weill Cornell,” she said. “I love this place. I’m so excited continue to develop my career here. And I’m so excited that so many people from my class are staying here. 

Forty-two students will remain in metropolitan New York, 23 of them at NewYork-Presbyterian. In all, 16 matched to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, five to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, and one to a combined residency on both campuses. An additional student matched to NewYork-Presbyterian/Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.One student matched to a top military program in medicine; 100 percent of students seeking residencies in dermatology, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, radiation oncology and urology earned positions in those highly competitive specialties. Thirty-eight percent of the students will pursue primary care residencies in internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology. Two couples matched with their partners, in either Boston, or New York. 

Jasmin Harpe was thrilled to match at her top choice: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell for neurology. Her family took the train in from New Jersey to help her celebrate the big, emotional day.

“I was really nervous, because you come here and open your envelope in front of everyone,” she said. “But it’s really great to have my friends and family here. I feel so much love and support, from all my classmates as well.”



Esther Chung celebrates her match with husband Albert and their children.

As fellow students came up to congratulate her, Harpe noted the sense of accomplishment in what they had all just achieved. “It’s really the culmination of all the hard work,” she said. “It’s amazing to look at all of my classmates and see how much we’ve transformed since the beginning of medical school.”

Just as the students celebrated their matches, so too did Weill Cornell Medicine faculty, who as career advisers provided valuable mentorship and advice throughout the residency application process. They led mock interviews and helped their students choose electives, sub-internships and research projects.

“This is an unbelievable partnership between students and their advisers,” said Dr. Barbara Hempstead, the senior associate dean for education. “Match Day is the culmination of many, many hours of hard work, across four years of academic study, and an intense period during the fourth year when students apply to and interview for residency. All along the way they are supported and provided with advice by our career advisers, clerkship directors, department chairs and associate deans.”

As a career adviser, Dr. Joseph Safdieh was on pins and needles waiting for the results of Match Day to come in. When he found out earlier in the week that every student who vied for a residency in neurology matched, it was a wonderful moment.

“In the end there’s no reason to be nervous,” said Dr. Safdieh, the Louis and Rachel Rudin Foundation Education Scholar and an associate professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “With the Weill Cornell Medicine name, all these students have unbelievable opportunities.”

With her husband and two young daughters by her side, Esther Chung was stunned and excited to discover that she had matched to Barnes-Jewish Hospital for dermatology. Her family has been a constant throughout her medical education.

“I started med school when my daughter was 11 months old, and the other one was born right before my third year,” she said. “So this is a match for all of us.”

Angela Jia, 31, of Toronto, had her maid of honor on hand to celebrate her match to Johns Hopkins Medicine for radiation oncology while her husband was away in North Carolina on business.

“I have palpitations,” Jia said. “I feel like my heart hasn’t come back into my chest yet. It’s surreal. It’s like the past four years have all culminated into this one wonderful achievement.”

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