UCLA medical students celebrate first in-person Match Day in two years

About half of the new graduates will study primary care in the fall

Photo: Eden Patton, left, looks on pensively as classmate Justine Seivright finds her Match Day envelope. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for DGSOM)

Visitors to UCLA’s Match Day 2022 could have been forgiven for thinking they’d wandered into a time warp. It looked like 2019 all over again.

A crowd of 400 excited guests filled Irma and Norman Switzer Plaza behind Geffen Hall, and floral bouquets and warm embraces replaced masks and social distancing.

After two years during which Match Day ceremonies were held virtually due to the pandemic, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA event returned in person on March 18 - bigger and better than ever. 

The Class of 2022 celebrates their matches at UCLA's Match Day 2022, on March 18. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for DGSOM)

Clutching countless smartphone cameras and more than a few adorable babies, family members watched as the 155 students in the medical school’s class of 2022 perched on the edges of their seats. The aspiring doctors were eager to open their acceptance envelopes and learn to which institutions they matched for their medical residencies, or advanced training in their clinical specialties.

Dr. Lee Miller, associate dean of student affairs, congratulates Aloukika Shah on her internal medicine match to UCSF. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for DGSOM)

“The past two years have been so challenging, both personally and professionally,” acknowledged Dr. Lee Miller, MD, the medical school’s associate dean of student affairs. “You were pulled from classrooms and clinical settings to navigate remote learning environments. You became masters of learning on Zoom and had to navigate virtual interviewing for residencies.”

Depending on the student’s chosen field, Match Day can influence where they will live and work for the three to seven years after they graduate from UCLA. 

Nivedita Keshav can't wait to open her match. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for DGSOM)

At precisely 9 a.m., the same time as their medical school peers around the country, the UCLA students ripped open their acceptance envelopes. Whoops of joy, wails of relief and emotional sobs filled the plaza.

For Fitz Gerald Diala, who emigrated to the U.S. at 14, achieving his match was both a personal and professional milestone.

“I dream about being able to expand ophthalmology education and to increase the level of practice in Nigeria, where I come from,” he told KTLA News. Diala will be moving across the country to train in ophthalmology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Eden Patton’s elated reaction to matching at UC San Francisco for an anesthesiology residency was captured in a Los Angeles Times photograph.

Vivek Shah celebrates his Harbor-UCLA match in emergency medicine with Siri Lasya Rallabhandi. (Photo by Reed Hutchinson for DGSOM) 

“It means everything,” Patton told KTLA. “Things that I wished for such a long time ago, things that my family and I really worked toward. I’m endlessly grateful to UCLA for helping me get to this point.”

According to Miller, nearly half of the medical school’s 2022 graduates will study primary care in the fall, and 20% will train to become surgeons. Three-quarters of the class will remain in the West, and 25% of the class will pursue their residencies at UCLA. 

Learn more about the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.