‘Welcome to your future’: Penn celebrates Match Day 2024

On the third Friday of March, Perelman School of Medicine’s class of 2024 celebrated their future residencies.

A Penn Med student writes on their Match Day sign.

The Jordan Medical Education Center fifth floor lobby was brimming with giddy nerves and excitement on Match Day. There was a lot of that excitement going around, as the clock counted down to noon on Friday, March 15. Every year, the third Friday of March is designated as Match Day, when the National Residency Matching Program lets medical students across the United States know where they’ll be headed for the next phase of their medical training. Or in some cases, if they’ll be remaining in place.

Among the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) class of 2024 matching students, 42 students—30%—will complete their residencies at Penn or the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Come summer, the 147 students in the class, nearly one-third of whom pursued dual degrees, will be fanning out to 21 states (plus Canada). The most popular specialties are internal medicine, anesthesiology, dermatology, and general surgery.

While his PSOM classmates clutched the envelopes that would soon reveal where they’d spend their residency years, MD/PhD candidate Joseph Aicher was trying to soothe 3-year-old son Peter, who was getting fussy in his red wagon.

Did he need a snack or sippy cup? Was it past nap time? Just the stress of being among throngs of MS4s and their loved ones? Nope. “He wants to open the envelope,” laughed Aicher’s wife Bernadette Bucher.

These medical students brought one distinction: Most of their entire medical school career took place after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite online classes instead of lecture halls and anatomy labs, when most of this class began in the fall of 2020; social distancing for extracurricular gatherings; and postponement of traditions like the White Coat Ceremony, some students who came through the pandemic found a bright side.

“Even with the pandemic cutting off a lot of opportunities, I’ve made several friendships that I may not have made if not for the pandemic forcing us into more one-on-one and small-group gatherings,” said Victor Ayeni. “People also cared more about medicine and health, which meant I got to do a lot of cool community engagement activities in terms of talking about the pandemic, or about the vaccine.”

Ayeni, a native of Georgia from a Nigerian family, was already a big proponent of community engagement from his undergraduate days at Yale University. At PSOM, he became involved with groups like the “Cut Hypertension” program, which provides blood pressure screenings to increase community awareness about hypertension, especially among Black men in whom it is prevalent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these relationships enabled Ayeni and his colleagues to also bring real talk about the disease and the vaccine directly to barbershop customers, outside of the medical setting.

Community engagement, through the Student National Medical Association and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, as well as at Esperanza Health Center (a nonprofit serving the Hispanic community in North Philly), Prevention Point (which serves people experiencing substance use disorder and homelessness), and more, helped to shape Ayeni’s holistic vision for his future role as a doctor, first in internal medicine residency and later as a cardiologist.

“When patients are hospitalized, they’re artificially cut off from their communities. To see them for who they are, and then treat them the way they deserve, we have to learn about the communities they come from,” he said.

Video of Penn’s Match Day 2024 is available on YouTube.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.