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Finding the perfect match

Karan and Amanda Kumar
Karan and Amanda Kumar were matched to Stanford-affiliated hospitals, where he will pursue a career as a pediatrician and she will focus on anesthesiology. Photo: Keith Weller, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Match Day is a momentous occasion in the careers of all fourth-year medical students, as they learn which residency program they have been accepted to. But getting a sought-after match had even greater importance for Johns Hopkins University students Karan and Amanda Kumar: They're going into different specialties, and they're married.

The couple met during their first year of medical school. Karan, whose parents are from India, was born in Kenya. At age 8, his family moved to Toronto. Amanda, who is of Chinese heritage, grew up in Ohio. Her parents immigrated to the United States after escaping from Cambodia in 1979 as war refugees of the Khmer Rouge.

When they arrived at Johns Hopkins, Karan and Amanda lived on the same floor of Reed Hall and developed a strong bond. At the beginning of their fourth year of medical school, they were married.

"As children of immigrants, Karan and I quickly realized that we were raised with similar cultural values and beliefs, including respect for family, self-sufficiency and a commitment to community," Amanda said. "I think this close bond served as a catalyst for our relationship, which continued to grow throughout our time at Johns Hopkins."

For married couples, there's a special process that links their applications so they can be placed in the same city, if not at the same hospital. Karan and Amanda were one of 878 couples across the nation to be matched this year, an all-time high, according to the National Resident Matching Program.

So on Friday, March 16, as Dr. Tom Koenig, the associate dean for student affairs at the School of Medicine, counted down to the moment when the students would open their envelopes and discover their destinations, both Karan and Amanda hoped for the best. And when they learned where they would be going, they shared an embrace and smiled broadly—both were matched to hospitals affiliated with Stanford University.

"It's a lot better now that it's official," Amanda said.

"We can finally start planning our new life together," Karan added.

Of the 110 students who participated in the match this year, 36 will train at hospitals that are part of the Johns Hopkins Medicine system. Some of the top specialties of interest to this year's class are pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, and general surgery.

The Johns Hopkins Match Day celebration took place on the second floor of the Armstrong Medical Education Building, as students, family, friends, and mentors gathered for events leading up to the big reveal.

"Match Day is such a big moment in our careers and our future lives together," Amanda said.

Karan called it a bittersweet moment. "We have made lifelong friends here," he said, "and while we are nostalgic about closing this chapter of our lives, we're really looking forward to the new adventures ahead."

This article will appear in the April issue of Dome

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