[Skip to Content]
Upstate College of Medicine students celebrate Match Day.

In the age of COVID-19, Match Day goes online

Match Day 2020, which fell on Friday, March 20, was unlike any before. Instead of gathering together to open envelopes revealing where they had matched for residency, Upstate College of Medicine students respected social distance and clicked an email at precisely noon.

The change was necessitated by the arrival of novel coronavirus in Central New York. Avoiding the usual crowd of hugging, happy students was one way Upstate was working to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sorry we aren’t able to celebrate you in the grand style you deserve,” said Julie White, PhD, dean of Student Affairs, in a streamed presentation.

This annual rite of passage, known as Match Day, was established in 1952 by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) of the Association of American Medical Colleges as an orderly and fair way to match the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the residency program’s choice of applicants. The matching program provides a common time for the announcement of the appointments, as well as an agreement for programs and applicants to honor the commitment to offer and accept an appointment.

Upstate Medical University interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD, and College of Medicine Dean Lawrence Chin, MD, addressed the class through online streaming.

Since he couldn’t be with the members of the class of 2020, Dewan said he was “sending you a big virtual hug.”

Chin was marking his first Match Day since becoming dean of the College of Medicine. “It’s safe to say I will never forget this class.”

White shared some statistics about the class of 2020:

  • 78 medical students (52 percent of the class) will enter the primary care specialties, including family medicine, psychiatry, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.
  • 84 medical students (56 percent of the class) will remain in New York state.
  • 36 medical students will remain in Syracuse: 25 for full residency and six for preliminary year at Upstate University Hospital and two for full residency and three for preliminary year at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center.
  • six medical students matched in the military; three of whom deferred to civilian match.
  • class match rate was 99 percent.

“We simply could not be more proud,” White said.

Before the virtual envelopes were opened, the class video was shared. A parody of “Old Town Road,” by artist Lil Nas X, “The Ol’ Match Sho,” includes class members in cowboy hats and scrubs line dancing at spots around the campus, including the rooftop heliport.

“Can’t nobody stop me matchin’,” went the prescient chorus. “You can’t stop me matchin’.” The class video is available here.

The presentation ended with 2020 Class President Michael DePasquale urging his classmates to send videos of themselves opening and celebrating their Match Day emails.

Upstate University Hospital must also fill its own residency positions. According to Upstate’s Graduate Medical Education office, Upstate filled all of its 170 resident positions and 31 of those spots are being filled by students from SUNY Upstate.

Caption: A screenshot from the Class of 2020 College of Medicine Match Day video.