Match Day occurs every year in March. It's the day when fourth-year medical students across the country open envelopes to find out their —match— with a medical residency. KUHF health science and technology reporter Carrie Feibel stopped by the ceremonies at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
On Match Day, medical students find out where they will go for 3 or 4 years of additional training in a chosen specialty.
Celeste Whisenant chose family medicine.
“I’ve applied all over Texas and I’ve ranked 5 spots. So today I’m going to find out which of those five spots I’ve got.”
Whisenant is only 23. She skipped two grades and went to college at age 16. Both her parents are doctors. She has traveled with them dozens of times to Latin America for medical missions.
Celeste Whisenant celebrates getting her first choice in medical residency (family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth) with her parents Gretchen and Dewey Whisenant, who started taking her on medical missions to Latin America at age 10.
The envelopes are passed out and the 240 students rip them open at the same time.
“I can’t get it open fast enough. I’m gonna cry either way.”
Dewey Whisenant: “John Peter Smith!”
Celeste Whisenant: “First choice, first choice! I can breathe again, I can breathe. I got John Peter Smith in Fort Worth, Texas, my first choice and I’m just overjoyed. It’s a fantastic hospital, it’s a public hospital, they only serve the underserved, it’s huge, it’s a level 1 trauma center and they just teach fantastic family physicians.”
Whisenant wants that training because after her residency, she plans to leave the U.S. and work in the Third World for the rest of her life.
“I want to do long-term medical missions, which would be me living somewhere in a small town in rural Latin America, hopefully, and just being the town doctor. There are so many small towns that don’t have any access to medical care, or they only have one nurse that comes occasionally or something.”
Whisenant caught the missionary bug from her parents. Her mom first took her to Mexico when she was 10.
“There’s a group of Indians called the Tarahumara Indians that we’ve taking care of for like 10 to 15 years.”
For most medical students, Match Day provides clarity. Students often settle in the cities where they train, using contacts from their residency to find a job.
But Whisenant is not like most medical students. After her residency, she has no idea how she’ll make a living.
“Even though you don’t make a ton of money, you know that if you’re a doctor that you can provide for yourself. And that’s a really comforting fact. I knew that if I became a doctor, I would be a missionary and I would not be able to provide for myself. But you know you trust the Lord and you just have faith that it’s all going to work out.”
Whisenant says she can always take short breaks from her mission to work at Mexican beach resorts or fly back to Texas to work in emergency rooms.
Anything it takes, she says, to sustain herself and keep her clinic going.