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Liberty University student-doctors celebrate first Match Day

When the clock struck noon, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) student-doctor Alex Hamilton didn’t hesitate. He rushed to the front of the room where envelopes sat on a table, containing the location where he and his wife, Shannon, will complete their residencies.

The Hamiltons were just two of the thousands of fourth-year medical students around the country who participated in a Match Day Celebration on Friday, an honored medical school tradition. Each year, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) informs applicants of where they’ve been placed for their post-graduation residency training. It is the first day students find out where they will spend the next three to seven years in training.

While Match Day is a milestone for all medical students, it was especially significant for LUCOM. On May 19, Liberty will see its first class of 126 student-doctors graduate.

With the envelopes in hand, Alex and Shannon Hamilton took deep breaths and stepped outside the Montview Student Union’s Alumni Ballroom to open their envelopes together. Both matched at St. Vincent Medical Center in Indianapolis, Ind.

“We were thrilled,” Alex said. “We interviewed with nine different hospitals over the last few months. We couldn’t be happier with our placement.”

LUCOM Dean Dr. Peter A. Bell congratulated the Class of 2018 on their accomplishment and for persevering through the challenges of medical school.

“This is the first of many Match Days to come for LUCOM,” Bell said. “For our students, they are now one step closer to graduation, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am so impressed by the work of our faculty and staff to walk our student-doctors through the match process. They are truly committed to seeing our students succeed and reach their goals, and today proves that.”

During the event, student-doctors, along with close family and friends, were treated to a light lunch and spent time with the faculty and staff members who walked alongside them over the last four years. After they received their results, student-doctors cheered and hugged their classmates as they compared locations.

Kiersten Pikarsky could barely open her envelope due to the excitement.

“I’m scared,” she laughed, as she ripped off the top of the envelope while her parents filmed the moment. After reading the letter with her match results, she screamed with excitement. Pikarsky got her first choice: Lynchburg Family Medicine.

Kiersten Pikarsky hugs Kindra Galloway after receiving their placements. (Photo by Leah Seavers)“This is an awesome opportunity to give back to the Lynchburg community,” Pikarsky said. “I would not be the person I am today without Liberty or LUCOM.”

Pikarsky graduated with an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences from Liberty in 2013. When she interviewed with LUCOM, Pikarsky knew she wanted to stay in Lynchburg for medical school.

“LUCOM was a great place to learn,” she said. “Everyone was so encouraging. The professors would pray for you, and they knew you by name. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the inaugural class.”

As the excitement died down, it was a realization for many that things were about to change as their classmates would go their separate ways.

Student-doctor Kindra Galloway couldn’t help but reflect on her time in Lynchburg.

“These last four years I’ve been surrounded by prayer and support from my friends in medical school and the faculty,” Galloway said. “It was amazing to be with other student-doctors who shared the same faith as me, because I don’t think I would have gotten that anywhere else.”

Galloway will be completing her residency in family medicine at Lone Tree Medical Center in Denver, Colo.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “The Lord has something special and exciting in the making for me in Denver.”

LUCOM student-doctors who did not apply through the NMRP matched with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American Urological Association (AUA), the San Francisco Match, or the Military Match (Navy, Air Force, Army).

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