UMass Medical's Drive-Thru Match Day Is ‘Best Experience … in the Weirdest of Times'

The future doctors opened their envelopes and found out where they'd be attending residency with car horns replacing applause and a Jumbotron projecting the normally intimate ceremony

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Friday was Match Day, the countdown to the future that the soon-to-be UMass Medical School graduates have been waiting for after years of studying to be doctors. And it looked a lot different than they might have thought it would.

From the safety of their cars, the students and their families drove through to get the all-important blue envelope filled with the name of their match -- the hospital where they will be doing their residency training.

“We all worked so hard to get to this point,” said Pooja Gupta, a future neurology resident from Westford.

“Seeing everything last year, I mean they made the best of it, but it’s so nice we can all be together and celebrate this accomplishment,” said Colleen Gabel, who will be doing a dermatology residency.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought one challenge after another to the medical front lines in a race against time and death.

Due to the pandemic, Match Day was virtual last year, and it remains virtual for many schools this year. But UMass Medical School figured a drive-thru and then drive-in style ceremony could work safely.

Blake Foster, a future radiology resident, said it was “a lot more work than just doing something virtual over the internet, but I think we’re doing it all really safely and socially distanced.”

“Honestly it was the best experience we could have had in the weirdest of times,” said future emergency medicine resident Nadia Eshraghi, of Burlington.

She said it was an experience she wasn’t sure she’d be able to share with her parents. But sure enough, her mom, Mitra Asgari, was there.

“I’m so happy, I’m so proud,” Asgari said through tears

“This is like a journey. I know was tough for everybody, including her, but I’m just so proud that they all did it,” she added.

As the CDC relaxed its guidelines for distance for mask-wearing kids in schools, some in Massachusetts are pushing to keep school remote.

With car horns replacing applause and a Jumbotron projecting the normally intimate ceremony, it was finally time for the moment Eshraghi and all her classmates were waiting for, when they could open their envelopes and find out where they matched.

Eshraghi screamed and jumped with excitement as her mom told her, “You matched!”

She's Beth Israel’s future Dr. Nadia Eshraghi.

UMass Medical School said they have 173 students graduating this year and about 100 of them were able to attend the drive-in Match Day.

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