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The doctors of the future learn their fate. The next step? Joining the front lines in a pandemic. – NJ.com

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Ryan Mahoney, 27, of Manhattan, is a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School student going into internal medicine. He was at Match Day on Friday, March 18, 2022, learning where he will serve his residency.
Ryan Mahoney was handed an envelope but didn’t open it. Nobody did.
The medical students went up one by one when their names were called over the loudspeaker. They returned and nervously stood in the crowd, envelope in hand, unopened.
Inside? Their futures.
Mahoney stood next to his classmates shortly before noon on Friday. A packed crowd had gathered in the courtyard of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. It was Match Day, a nerve-wracking event when medical school students learn which hospital will host their residency.
The group — wearing matching white T-shirts that said “NJMS Takes on Match” — clapped and roared as names were called. They are the next generation of doctors entering a medical field transformed by a once-in-a-century pandemic.
They began their studies before the COVID-19 crisis. Now, they’ve seen the impact, the dire need, and they say they are excited to be called to serve on the front lines.
“It definitely affects you,” said Mahoney, 27, who lives in Manhattan.
The Baldwin, New York, native chose internal medicine and hopes to find his way into cardiology.
“We got into medicine not knowing that we were going to be starting our jobs in a global pandemic,” Mahoney said as people hugged and congratulated one another. “With that said, it did motivate me a little bit, to kind of go harder … and make sure I’m doing right by my patients, right by the people around me. To make sure I’m prepared for whatever we might see in the future.
“I kind of realized how much of a difference we really can make once we do graduate, and once we start working, especially because of the pandemic.”
He wasn’t alone.
His friend and classmate, Darius White, of Newark, was by his side. He, too, was motivated by the pandemic.
“It’s showing a lot of the problems and inequities in our health care system,” said White, 29, who also chose internal medicine. “And that’s the main reason why I got into medicine.”
He’s seen the stress the crisis has placed on the system. He wants to make it better.
Graduating Rutgers New Jersey Medical School student Mishel Figuero, of West New York, right, is embraced by her mom, Maria, after finding out she was matched to a residency program in obstetrics-gynecology at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Julia Carter, 28, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has opted for internal medicine, too. She was excited, surrounded by classmates.
“I think it’s been just a really revealing time,” she said, “not only the burdens and pressures on our health care system and our health care workers, but more importantly, how we can come together as a collective, as a nation, and really advance public health and overcome a lot of trials and tribulations.”
Family and friends sat and snapped photos on a warm, sunny Friday. The students stood, as names continued to be called as they went up to receive their envelopes.
Everyone was nervous. No one seemed to be cheating and opening their envelopes before they were supposed to. The event was designed to culminate in one climactic moment, when together they discover their futures once all the names had been called.
On Monday, the students learned they secured a job in their field. But Match Day revealed where they were headed. Everyone had listed their preferences, but nothing was for sure.
At around 12:15 p.m., the unsealing began.
I found Mahoney, who was being embraced in congratulatory hugs. He had said beforehand that he wanted to remain in the New York area to be near his family.
He was beaming.
He’s going to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center — his first choice.
He begins in June.
At Match Day festivities for graduating Rutgers New Jersey Medical School students, a skeleton is on display, dressed in scrubs. Some students put a few dollars in their pocket for good luck before finding out where they are matched for their residency in the fall. Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com.
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