Ohio University

Virus precautions don’t dampen celebration of Match Day results

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Even under a statewide lockdown on large face-to-face gatherings, made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no way the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine was about to let Match Day 2020 – which college leaders are calling a great success – pass uncelebrated Friday.

Match Day is the anxiously awaited day each year when the National Residency Matching Program announces where the nation’s graduating medical students have been accepted into residency programs. In addition to the disruption created by the coronavirus, this year’s Match Day was notable as the first in which all residency programs were accredited under a single system; formerly D.O. and M.D. programs maintained separate accreditation processes.

The Heritage College had originally planned in-person Match Day celebrations in Athens, Cleveland and Dublin to allow fourth-year medical students to gather in person to share the messages announcing their residency locations and exchange whoops, hugs and fist bumps. But because Ohio University has suspended in-person classes and instructed employees to work remotely to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, good news and congratulations had to be shared virtually.

Speaking during an executive dean’s “town hall” teleconference on Friday, Associate Dean for Clinical Education Wayne Carlsen, D.O., reported that preliminary results show that over 98 percent of the class had matched into residencies, including seven military residencies, with the possibility that the number could still go higher. John Schriner, Ph.D., associate dean for admissions and student affairs, called this outcome “monumental.”

Scott Wong, Ph.D., OMS IV, past president and national representative of the Heritage College Student Government Association, echoed this assessment. “What an amazing and truly unforgettable day!” Wong said. “I am proud of all the accomplishments of my colleagues as they receive their well-deserved news. While we all would have loved to celebrate this day together, this truly is an unprecedented time. Remember, that one day doesn’t define our journey. This has been an amazing journey for us all – and it is just beginning.”

Ken Johnson, D.O., Heritage College executive dean and Ohio University chief medical affairs officer, rated the 2020 match as “a tremendous success in our new single accreditation environment. It speaks to the high caliber of Heritage College students and the value of osteopathic medicine in the broader medical landscape. My only regret is that we couldn’t celebrate with our students in person this year.”

Johnson added, “The COVID-19 pandemic may have hindered our Match Day celebrations, but I have no doubt that these unprecedented times will ultimately strengthen our students’ career preparedness and their resolve to advance medical discovery.”

Isaac Kirstein, D.O., dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland, said he was “so proud of the class of 2020, who have matched very well. Their impact on health care for Ohio and beyond will be profound. They will be entering the health care system that will be changed going forward. Our new graduates will be part of that transformation, and I will look forward to their contributions for years to come.”

Kirstein noted that in match results for Cleveland students, more than 80 percent will be doing their residencies in Ohio, which he called “true to our mission.”

At the Dublin campus, Dean William Burke, D.O. (’88), also considered the 2020 match ­­­­­­­a triumph. “I am so incredibly proud of our fourth-year students for their success in this year’s NRMP Match,” he said. “It is also gratifying to see so many of them joining our amazing health care partners in central Ohio for their residencies. I can’t wait to hear about all of the great things they will do in the future.”

Heritage College, Athens, Dean Beth Longenecker, D.O. (’91), said she was pleased to celebrate the students’ success – even virtually – during her first Match Day as dean of the campus. “They have matched into many amazing residency programs. With 70 percent of the Athens campus matching into residencies in Ohio, they truly represent the next generation of physicians who will improve the health of our state. They will all demonstrate that care truly does lead here.”

We will follow up with additional details about our class of 2020’s match placements in a future story.