Chimsom Orakwue imagined life as a doctor for as long as she can remember. It is the thread that connected her childhood to high school to college and, four years ago, to Weill Cornell Medicine.
Now a graduating medical student, Orakwue reached a milestone March 17 that brought her ever closer to attaining her goal: learning where she would complete her residency training. Unsealing an envelope that contained that news, she read with disbelief that she matched to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for internal medicine, her top choice.
“I think it’s starting to finally hit me, that we all reached this milestone together,” said Orakwue, 27, of Houston, who served as president of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Student National Medical Association chapter. “I’m really going to be a doctor. The time has come. It’s here. It’s surreal to me.”
Orakuwe and her fellow classmates in the Weill Cornell Medical College Class of 2023 learned on national Match Day where they will be doing their internship and residency training – setting the stage for the next several years of their medical careers and lives.
Match results this year were revealed simultaneously at noon to medical students nationwide. More than 48,000 graduating allopathic, international and osteopathic medical students from across the country (and Americans studying abroad) competed for some 40,000 residency positions – the most ever offered, according to the National Resident Matching Program.
Weill Cornell Medicine’s Class of 2023 gathered to open their match envelopes, an annual rite of passage, at a ceremony on the Starr Foundation-Maurice R. Greenberg Conference Center Terrace of the Belfer Research Building. Students celebrated their achievements and shared their excitement with fellow classmates, family and friends.
Dr. Francis Lee, interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, addressed the class and highlighted the day’s significance, noting that the envelopes hold “the maps to meaningful, consequential careers,” as the students advance to the next stage of their medical training.
“Our society needs you in ways you may not have yet imagined,” he said. “Once opened, these envelopes will confirm for all of us that you are going where you are needed most.”
Of the 102 students in Weill Cornell Medical College’s graduating class who entered the match, 88 matched to top postgraduate residency specialty programs. Forty-five students are remaining in metropolitan New York, with 24 students matched to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. And 38 students will pursue primary care residencies in internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, or obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr. Yoon Kang, senior associate dean for education, commended the students for their enduring dedication to health care during a global pandemic that shaped much of their medical training.
“Your ability to adapt and learn in a world where patient care was evolving to meet extraordinary challenges has been truly impressive,” she said. “You were resilient, and never once wavered in your commitment to compassionate care.”
Tahj Blow, 29, of Brooklyn, said he’s thrilled to be headed to his first choice: Emory School of Medicine, for a combined internal medicine and psychiatry program. He credits his friends, particularly the women in his life, for helping him attain this achievement.
“It’s amazing, that’s where I want to be. I have a lot of family in Atlanta, and I have friends coming with me,” he said. “To be here, all together now, that’s important as well. So today’s a really great day.”
Now, as members of the Class of 2023 prepare to scatter across the country to pursue their medical aspirations, they will remain connected through the community of Weill Cornell graduates. “No matter where your journey takes you, you will always be a part of the Weill Cornell Medicine family,” said Dr. Kathleen Foley, M.D. ’69, president of the Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association.
For Rachel Abramson, Match Day represents a homecoming. A Seattle native, she will be going to the University of Washington for internal medicine – her top choice. She immediately shared the news with her family members back home, who were overjoyed.
“I’m starting to tear up a little bit just thinking about everything that came up to this point,” she said. “It’s going to be another three years of tough work, but I’m happy I’ll be with my family and have that support network, and I’m so grateful to Weill Cornell Medicine.”
Kathryn Inman is associate editor for Weill Cornell Medicine.