collage of students celebrating
Students celebrating Match Day at home instead of the usual JABSOM ceremony.

On Match Day morning each year, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) can be found packed with hundreds of people and screams of joy that echo throughout the hallways. This year, there was a major change.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and quickly-evolving social guidelines, Match Day festivities were canceled on March 20. Instead, students celebrated with their families at home, simultaneously with other medical students in different time zones across the nation, as they discovered where they will spend the next few years training as new doctors.

“Really excited, really nervous too,” said JABSOM student Kara Paul. “It’s a really bittersweet time because it’s really exciting and these are all that we’ve looked forward to and wanted to experience, but it’s also getting real that the next chapter is coming and that’s scary too.”

During this critical time in health care, the JABSOM Class of 2020 is especially looking forward to becoming physicians.

“Seeing everyone working on the front lines right now, all the doctors, all the nurses, it just encourages us (medical students) and reminds us that we made the right decision by joining this profession,” said Joseph Go, fourth-year medical student at JABSOM. “It readies us for when we actually begin our residency. We start in July and we’ll be on the front lines of it all.”

At the UH medical school, 65 members of the graduating class matched into 12 different medical specialties in 19 different states including Hawaiʻi and one in Canada. More than half of the students are going to be doctors who provide the first contact for the majority of patients, including specialties with significant shortages (these include internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics and OB-Gyn).

By far those who matched into training programs on the mainland remained close to home as possible, matching into one of the 19 accredited Graduate Medical Education programs offered at UH or seeking matches into programs along the West Coast, including California, Oregon and Washington.

The 2020 Match in the United States was the largest in history with a record-high 40,084 U.S. and international applicants vying for an available 37,256 residency positions, according to the National Resident Matching Program.

Read more on the JABSOM website.

By Deborah Manog Dimaya