Medical Residency ‘Match Day’ Yields Rare Mother and Son Placements with Mother Matched to Pathology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
It was a special and unusual moment for this mother and son duo as they applied for acceptance into residency programs and were both matched on the same day
Pathologists and other clinical laboratory scientists who underwent the matching process will be interested to learn how a mother and son were matched on the same day as part of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) 2023 Match Day.
Match Day is the next step for medical and medical technology students to be placed into desired training programs in chosen specialties. According to the NRMP website, pairings are determined by a mathematical algorithm to match applicants with residency positions.
Wenjing Cao, MD, PhD, and her son Hefei Liu, MD, didn’t plan to apply for residency together, but when Cao wanted to return to medicine, the pair realized they could be matched to programs at the same time, Good Morning America reported.
Cao, 54, is currently a research scientist/professor at the University of Kansas. She graduated from medical school in China and spent 10 years practicing internal medicine there before immigrating with her family to the US in 2006. Liu, 26, is finishing his oncology studies at the Medical College of Wisconsin where he expects to graduate in May.
Hefei Liu, MD (left), a radiation oncology student at Medical College of Wisconsin, and his mom hematologist Wenjing Cao, MD, PhD (right), a research scientist and professor at the University of Kansas, matched residencies on the same day during the annual National Resident Matching Program 2023 Match Day. Pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists know how exciting this day can be for residency applicants. (Photo copyright: Good Morning America.)
Pair Express Their Excitement, Awe
The matching program will take the pair to different locations for their training. Cao will be headed to the clinical pathology residency program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Liu to the University of Pennsylvania for the radiation oncology residency program, Good Morning America noted.
“When she told me she was going to reapply this year and it was the same year I was applying, I thought, this could actually happen. Somehow it did and it’s still incredible to me,” Liu said.
Cao is also thrilled. “This is incredible and amazing, something I feel very excited about. I never thought I would go through this process with my son together,” she told Good Morning America.
National Resident Matching Program
Though this is a special and rare moment, it’s not the first time the NRMP matched a parent/child in the Main Residency Match. However, Stephanie Bartek, Senior Communications Analyst for the NRMP, told Dark Daily that the NRMP does not track whether applicants are related, so there is no way to provide odds of it occurring.
The NRMP has matched physicians to residency training programs since 1952, but in 1984 it formalized the Medical Specialties Matching Program (MSMP) which matches physicians into fellowships and subspecialty training programs.
The first fellowship match was for Colon and Rectal Surgery. Since then, the NRMP has grown the MSMP to 73 subspecialties in 20 separate fellowship Matches, according to an NRMP press release.
2023’s Matches Speak to Healthcare Growth
“The 2023 Main Residency Match proved once again to be a highly successful Match with outstanding results for participants. We were excited to see the record number of primary care positions offered in this year’s Match and how the number of positions has consistently increased over the past five years, and most importantly, the fill rate for primary care has remained steady,” said Donna L. Lamb, PhD, NRMP President and CEO, in a press release announcing the release of “Results and Data Specialties Matching Service, 2023 Appointment Year for Fellowship Matches Conducted by the NRMP’s Specialties Matching Service (SMS)” in April.
The report shows 13,919 active applicants competed for 13,365 fellowship positions offered by 5,734 programs, according to the press release.
“For the past 70 years, the NRMP has been proud to play a part in helping physicians transition into residency training and begin careers serving their patients and community,” she added.
Age is Only a Number
Cao hopes her match will impact individuals who are holding back from following their desires.
“I hope my story can inspire so many others like me, at my age, [in their] 50s, and as a mother, as a woman, as an immigrant, [anyone] can pursue their dream, as long as you want it,” she said. “It’s your dream, put hard work on it. Keep positive. Stay motivated. You can get it.”
Her son Liu mirrored her sentiment. “If you see your parents or any of your family members who are interested in pursuing medicine and they have an interest, but they clearly have some sort of obstacles in their life, you should … be supportive of them and encourage them to pursue that dream because I think with dedication, hard work, and sometimes just even luck, that you can truly achieve your success.”
With the demand for pathologists in the United States outstripping the supply, Wenjing Cao, MD, PhD, may have her pick of positions when she finishes her pathology residency program and any pathology fellowship programs she may undertake.
—Kristin Althea O’Connor