Joy, anticipation part of Match Day memories

March 14, 2023

Whether planning, participating or watching a loved one, Health Sciences faculty and staff recall the range of emotions on pharmacy and medicine Match Days.

Match Day celebrations are a joyous turning point in pharmacy and medical students’ careers. They joy and anticipation marks the start of the next phase of their career with residency training.

Match Day celebrations are a joyous turning point in pharmacy and medical students’ careers. They joy and anticipation marks the start of the next phase of their career with residency training.

As the pandemic-generation pharmacy and medical students prepare for this week’s Match Day, current faculty and staff are reminded of their own anticipation-laden events. Whether eagerly awaited or nervously anticipated, Match Day is the starting point for their future career trajectory.

Before we look ahead to this year’s Match Day – March 15 for pharmacy students and March 17 for medical students – Health Sciences Connect took a look back at faculty and staff remembrances of Match Days past.

Michael D. Dake, MD, MBA, senior vice president, University of Arizona Health Sciences
Year of match: 1978
Medical college attended: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
Residency matched with: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
Specialty: Internal Medicine
My memory of that day: I remember having bittersweet emotions – conversations with friends and shared memories, of kegs of beer in white trash cans. It reminds me of a quote from the 1978 Baylor College of Medicine yearbook, Aesculapian: “The years slipped by to wherever old years and minutes go, and suddenly the Match results were out. The last days of med school raced by until the impossibly distant goal of graduation approached impossibly fast. The intensive years with their intense friendships culminated in a dispersion as exciting as it was painful. ‘Dislocations only connect,’ says anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, ‘the rest is silence.’”

Dorothy Gilbertson-Dahdal, MD, professor of medical imaging, College of Medicine – Tucson
Year of match:

Woman (Dr. Gilbertson-Dahdal) holds a photo of her family.

Dorothy Gilbertson-Dahdal, MD, holds a photo of her family.

Medical college attended: Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
Residency matched with: Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY
Specialty: Radiology
My memory of that day: A feeling of happiness and gratitude for being able to stay in Albany. Having met my husband, Samir Dahdal, MD, while in medical school – he was a resident in internal medicine while I was a medical student, and he is now a cardiologist at Pima Heart and Vascular – it was clear at that time that we were becoming serious. After the match we became engaged, and I completed my internship in internal medicine at Columbia University/Mary Imogen Bassett in Cooperstown, New York, while he was chief resident at Albany Medical College. We are a happy couple in medicine with three beautiful children – Morgan, Leila and Asa – with an origin that can be traced back to a happy Match Day experience.

John Hemlick, MD, clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology, College of Medicine - Tucson
Year of match: 1988
Medical college attended: Hahnemann University Medical School (now Drexel University College of Medicine), Philadelphia
Residency matched with: Hahnemann University Medical School, Philadelphia
Specialty: Anesthesiology
My memory of that day: Match Day arrived, and at that time there was a huge Match Day reveal complete with champagne in the school’s largest lecture hall. I went with no uncertainty at all as to what I was doing and was horrified as I saw some of my fellow students who didn’t match their preferred spots literally break down and collapse on the floor sobbing. This was made worse by the fact that it was not only the few students who didn’t match at all, but even some students who had “only” matched their second choice were equally overwhelmed as if their lives were ruined. It was an odd mix of feelings as the emotions of contentment over my own situation were overlaid with a sense of horror witnessing the trauma others were experiencing. I still have my two commemorative champagne glasses. Looking at them brings out an intense memory of the smell and the bubbles of the champagne in my nose and a sick flashbulb image of several students on their knees in the lecture hall wailing and sobbing.

Denise Rodríguez Esquivel, PhD, DBSM, assistant professor of psychiatry, College of Medicine – Tucson
Graduate school attended: University of Miami, Miami, Florida
Year of match: 2012
Internship matched with: Southwest Consortium Predoctoral Psychology Internship in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Specialty: Clinical psychology
My memory of that day: I had spent four years living on the East Coast, attending Syracuse University and the University of Miami, and I was so unbelievably happy to finally be returning to the Southwest, where I’ve been ever since! The desert always has been and always will be my home.

Claire Pascavis, MBA, senior program coordinator, Research Office, College of Medicine – Phoenix
Family member: Tyler Pascavis, MD

A man and woman (Tyler and Claire Pascavis) pose together while holding a sign that says "Match Day 2021."

Tyler and Claire Pascavis pose on his Match Day 2021.

Year of match: 2021
Medical college attended: College of Medicine – Phoenix
Residency matched with: HonorHealth Family Medicine
Specialty: Family Medicine
My memory of that day: On March 19, 2021, my husband was a fourth-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. Our Match Days at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix are legendary with large celebrations and lots of confetti! Even though our Match Day was during the pandemic and looked different than the usual Match Day celebration our college was used to, the faculty and staff made sure it was still extra special for us. Each student and their family came to campus in the morning to receive a piñata with their personalized Match Day results inside. Everyone was so excited to see one another, even for a few minutes, as it had been many months since we were all together. After saying hello and a pre-congratulations to our friends, each student left to go have an individual celebration with their family. We were so excited to open my husband Tyler’s Match Day results and find out he matched with the HonorHealth Family Medicine Residency Program and would be staying in Phoenix.

A woman and man stand together. The man is holding his Match Day letter.

Amy Sussman, MD, celebrates Match Day with one of her College of Medicine – Tucson students from past years.

Amy Sussman, MD, associate professor of medicine, College of Medicine – Tucson
Year of match: 2001
Medical college attended: College of Medicine – Tucson
Residency matched with: University of Washington, Seattle
Specialty: Internal Medicine
My memory of that day: It was a dream come true. I had dreamed of going to the University of Washington for residency since my second year in medical school. My husband was by my side and just as excited. The moment I opened the letter, I felt pure elation, followed by a bit of panic! My residency was known for being volume heavy and a bit on the masochistic side, but well worth it – the training I had was hands down the best!

Jill Hall, manager, alumni and community engagement, College of Medicine – Tucson
My memories:
I have been a part of the last five Match Days – this year is No. 6 – and each one has been memorable. My first was in 2018, and it was the first time we moved the event from the small confines of Duval Auditorium into the UArizona Student Union and welcomed over 400 people for breakfast. The first time you see a match ceremony it is overwhelming because of the emotions – it is something that has to be experienced. The class of 2020 was all ready for their Match Day to be held in the new Health Sciences Innovation Building. Plans were underway for a grand reveal that had streamers coming down from the upper floors onto the waiting students in the Forum.  Unfortunately, COVID changed the world, and the event was cancelled seven days before. Students hosted their own celebrations to celebrate the day.

Ross Dubois, manager, special projects, College of Medicine – Tucson

A man with shoulder-length brown hair and holding up a peace symbol with his fingers, stands in front of a dual-screen computer monitor.

Ross Dubois, the manager special projects at the College of Medicine – Tucson, works during the virtual Match Day event in 2021.

My memories: I’ve been involved as a helping hand with the Match Day ceremonies since 2018. My most memorable Match Day is from 2021, when our office created a virtual ceremony for the students. I adapted the event to be completely virtual. I developed an interactive map to “pin” student matches as they announced. The students chose 10-second walk-up songs that played while they came to the virtual stage. I used a soundboard to add in applause effects after students spoke to eliminate dead air following their big announcement. It took all my brainpower to juggle each element, but it came off perfectly. We still use the virtual match map for our in-person ceremonies.

Christopher Edwards, PharmD, BCPS, assistant clinical professor, R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy
Year of match:
Pharmacy college attended: University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago
Residency matched with: University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
Specialties: Pharmacy practice and specialty residency in emergency medicine pharmacy practice
My memory of that day: I applied to six residencies and interviewed with all six. During interviews, I realized the best place for me to get the experience I was looking for was at an academic medical center. I wanted to learn how to be a better clinical pharmacist, researcher and educator. After interviewing at a variety of programs, I only ended up ranking the two academic medical centers on my list. I would not recommend this strategy! Fortunately, after a terrible night’s sleep, I woke up to an email notifying me that I matched with the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. While this was my top choice, I felt a mix of emotions. I was thrilled to have matched with the University of Arizona, but realized it also meant leaving my family and friends in Chicago. In addition, when I called my best friend to tell him the news, I found out that he didn’t match. Match Day was really a roller coaster of emotions: joy and pride that I matched at a great program, empathetic disappointment for my friend who didn’t match, excitement about what the future held, anxiety about leaving home, and thankfulness for all of the mentorship, support and opportunities that had led me to that point. In the end, everything worked out well for all involved, but it was certainly a wild ride!

Kevin F. Moynahan, MD, vice dean education and professor of medicine, College of Medicine – Tucson
Year of match: 
Medical college attended: College of Medicine – Tucson
Residency matched with: College of Medicine – Tucson
Specialty: Internal medicine
My memory of that day: The joy of learning that my wife and I both matched to College of Medicine – Tucson programs – she is a pediatrician – as we had three children and wished not to move, these were the only programs we applied to. Fast forward to 2020, and my wife and I relived our experience as my son and his wife couples-matched to the same internal medicine program that I trained in.  They will finish their residency in June. After residency, my son will be a chief resident, as I was, and his wife will be a hospitalist.

A man and woman pose together while he holds up a sign that says "I matched in Radiology at the University of Arizona."

Conner Reynolds celebrates his 2021 Match Day experience where he learned he would complete his residency at the College of Medicine – Tucson. With him is his fiancé, Aubrey Ingram, who would follow him a year later.

Conner Reynolds, DO
Year of match: 2021
Medical college attended: University of North Texas Health Science Center – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Worth, Texas
Residency matched with: College of Medicine – Tucson
Specialty: Diagnostic Radiology
My memory of that day: On Match Day 2021, I felt excited that the dreams I chased for so long were finally becoming a reality. I felt proud to be the first member of my family to graduate from college and embark on a career as a physician. I felt overwhelming gratitude for the unwavering support of family, friends and mentors throughout my journey, and bittersweet that I couldn’t bring everyone with me to Arizona. Match Day also marked a significant milestone for my fiancé and I, as it brought us one step closer to training and beginning our lives together. (His fiancé, Aubrey Ingram, is below.)

Aubrey Ingram, DO
Year of match: 2022

A man and woman look at the woman's Match Day letter.

Aubrey Ingram reacts to the Match Day letter.

Medical college attended: Midwestern University – Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Glendale, Arizona
Residency matched with: College of Medicine – Tucson
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
My memory of that day: The most memorable moment of Match Day was seeing the joy on my family’s faces as they watched my fiancé and my dreams come true. Conner and I were student body presidents of our medical schools. Through this leadership role, we traveled often for conferences which allowed us to meet, become best friends and ultimately fall in love. After learning Conner had matched to the University of Arizona for radiology, I was also offered an opportunity to rotate here as a fourth-year medical student and absolutely adored the program as well as its people. My Match Day rounded out our story knowing that we would be able to complete our training together at the University of Arizona. It was truly the start to our happily ever after.