Battle day full of anxiety for medical students in the North West

CHICAGO (CBS) – Friday was Match Day, the annual event where medical students across the country find out where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives.

It is a day of anxiety and excitement, some dreams realized and others shattered. And it all happens in seconds. CBS 2’s Sara Machi was there when Northwestern University students learned their fate.

On Northwestern’s medical campus on Friday, there was reason to celebrate. They broke out the champagne well before dinner, but it was a toast along the way.

“Yeah, it’s like that feeling of, ‘Oh my god, can it be tomorrow already?'” said Brandon McNichol, a future OB/GYN resident.

About 150 students, their friends and family attended Match Day as these medical students found out where they are headed for residency after graduating in May.

“It’s a really special day,” said Simon Padanilam, a future orthopedic surgery resident.

Each student has a list of their top choices.

“I hope to stay here at Northwestern, so fingers crossed,” said Grace Smith, a future anesthesiologist.

For McNichol, his family is only a few from Florida, making Match Day something of a family tradition since his father went through the process in 1988, albeit with far less fanfare.

“We got an envelope in your mailbox and we all opened it,” said Dr. Milton McNichol. “No celebration, tears, laughter. It was over in 10 minutes. So it’s really changed. This is really good.”

As time passes, the school leaders distribute the envelopes.

“I feel stressed,” the younger McNichol said.

Each student waited for the line to open, and when it came time for the countdown, McNichol got a surprise.

“Ohio State!” he said.

It’s a new chapter in a new city.

Students shared the news with people who couldn’t be there in person and wrapped their arms around those who could. On a day with so many emotions, there is relief in an answer. Not all medical students will get a placement.

“It’s so unpredictable, but I’m so happy to have a place and start the rest of my career,” McNichol said. “Four years, but it will be exciting. It will be a journey.”

Staff at Northwestern said this is one of their strongest Match Day placements to date, something they said is even more significant because these students went through all the stress and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The future residents may become vital to the American health care system. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that the United States is facing a looming physician shortage.

They estimate the country could be short as many as 139,000 doctors by 2033.

Battle day full of anxiety for medical students in the North West

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