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The Match goes online, but students prefer old-fashioned envelopes

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1999 - Summer


The Internet proved no match for snail mail as scores of students gathered in Harkness Hall on Match Day, March 18, to receive the plain white envelopes that would tell them where they’d been accepted for residencies. Rather than wait until 1 p.m. and find out by logging on to a computer, students preferred to share their joys, and occasional disappointments, with their classmates at noon.

The medical school, said Cynthia Andrien, assistant dean for student affairs, has no plans to change the annual rite of passage for medical students. “I think the fun is the envelopes,” Andrien said as she prepared to deliver them to students. Accompanied by Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’90-93, associate dean for student affairs, Andrien wheeled a cart bearing the letters into the mailroom shortly before noon.

A few minutes later she stepped out and students poured in, only to emerge a moment later, tearing open their envelopes. “Oh, my God!” shouted Nnemdi Kamanu, who matched at her first choice, primary care medicine at the University of San Francisco - General Hospital. She hugged Clovene Campbell, who also matched at her first choice, a residency in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. All 92 students in the class found residencies, Andrien said, and 73 percent matched to their first choice and 97 percent matched to one of their top three choices. “No one went below their fourth choice,” she said.

Nationally, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, 94 percent of medical school seniors received a first-year residency program, with 80 percent matching at one of their top three choices.

Notification via the Internet was a novelty this year, and no doubt useful to far-flung applicants. But not all availed themselves of the computer service, even if it involved a lengthy trip. “There is something giddy about being here and seeing so many smiles,” said Steven Jacoby, who came from New York City to learn he was accepted for a residency in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center there.

“There was no way that I was going to sit alone in Boston and log onto the Internet to discover where my residency training would take place,” said Ruth Potee, who drove to New Haven to be with her classmates for the ceremony. She was accepted at her first choice — a residency in family practice at Boston Medical Center, the first such offering in the city. “I like the idea of being in a new program,” Potee said. “You get to blaze your own trail.”