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Preparing to meet their matches

Graduating 2017 UC Irvine medical students rejoice at their matches with residency programs, where they will complete their medical training.
Steve Zylius / UC Irvine Strategic Communications
Fourth-year medical students pose on Match Day 2017, after learning where they will be spending their medical residencies.

UC Irvine medical students will soon participate in a ceremony to see where they’ll serve residencies.

At UC Irvine's Bren Events Center on March 16, 2018, 99 medical students will gather for a festive, emotional annual event mirrored across the nation that is known as Match Day.

Although these fourth-year students won’t actually receive medical degrees until June, their journey as physicians starts on Match Day.

As part of UC Irvine’s Match Day tradition, each future doctor is called randomly to a podium — one at a time — to open an envelope and read aloud to hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where he or she will spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training as a resident.

2018 UC Irvine graduating medical school students Miriam McQuade and Kyle Barbour hope to land residencies at the same hospital.Miriam McQuade and Kyle Barbour (pictured at right), who plan to marry on May 26, are seeking a "couple’s match" at the same hospital, which limits their possibilities.

They’ve applied to 10 wide-ranging residency programs, some at UC Irvine and some as far away as the University of Rochester in New York.

"It’s going to be a huge surprise where we end up," said McQuade. "It’s both intimidating and exciting at the same time. We know we’ll be going on an adventure, but we don’t know where."

Whatever the destination, she and Barbour are committed to public health. They were both part of an effort to establish the Orange County Needle Exchange Program.

McQuade also worked with the Santa Ana Unified School District to develop a curriculum covering family planning, sexually transmitted infections, gender and sexuality, consent and communications skills.

PRIME-LC: A family reunion

This drive to serve defines the students in the university's Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community.

A five-year master’s-and-MD program, PRIME-LC is the first of its kind specifically designed to meet the distinctive needs of Latinos. It has become a model for similar endeavors across the country.

Eleven PRIME-LC graduates will match this year, and the ceremony is something of a reunion for students, staff, family and doctors who have been touched by the innovative program. An annual group photo taken after the event is a memento they cherish.

PRIME-LC participants share a unique medical school bond. In addition to coursework and clinical work, they travel abroad to volunteer in Latin American clinics from Mexico to South America. These international sojourns create lifetime memories.

Samuel Saenz, who hopes to match in psychiatry, fondly recalled playing the ukulele and singing with a classmate during his infectious diseases rotation in Peru.

"PRIME-LC has been the best part of my medical school experience," Saenz said. "I look forward to contributing to this wonderful family as a proud alumnus."

Fellow PRIME-LC student Lesley Lara also plans a medical career dedicated to serving the less fortunate, but first she and her husband will embark on a different sort of adventure: They’re expecting a baby sometime around Match Day.

"I feel so fortunate to become a mother before I fully embrace my role as a physician," Lara said.