Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Medical students gather to find out residencies

With the emotional intensity of the Oscars, the anticipation of the college draft and the culmination of four years of training, fourth-year Medical School students gathered March 19 in Ann Arbor for Match Day.

One-by-one students were called center stage to receive a plain, white envelope that contains their fates for the next three to seven years — a single slip of paper stating where they will do their residencies.

Medical School seniors Austin Gross and Lynda Ken are among the U.S. medical students who learned where they'll do their residencies during what's called Match Day. Their participation Thursday was record-setting: this was the largest Match in history with 29,890 students registered across the country, and an all-time high of 788 couples entered. Dating for two years, Gross will enter emergency medicine and Ken will enter pediatrics in Arizona. Below, A medical student marks on a map where he will have his residency. (Photos by Lin Jones, U-M Photo Services)

Although results of the nationwide matching process were posted online earlier in the day — so that any graduating medical student in the country can find out their residency match on their own — U-M students have the tradition of finding out as a group.

“Because the University of Michigan medical students are considered among the best in the nation, well over 90 percent are typically accepted by their first, second or third choices,” says Dr. Elizabeth Petty, associate dean of student affairs. “While graduation is not until May, Match Day is still an important part of their professional journey.”

Match results can be an indicator of health care trends and career interests among graduating medical school students. This was the country's largest Match Day in history with 29,890 applicants.

The match, conducted annually by the National Resident Matching Program, is the primary system for aligning applicant preferences with those of residency programs at U.S. teaching hospitals.

This year, about 160 students participated in the match. Based on previous years, nearly 25 percent will do their residencies in Michigan. The rest will be scattered across the country.

During the third year, medical students select the residency programs in which they desire to participate; interviews take place in the fourth year. Then, based on factors that include interview results, student preferences and available openings, an impartial match is made through the national system.

Students will begin their residency programs in the weeks and months following Medical School commencement exercises, which are scheduled 5 p.m. May 8 at Hill Auditorium. This year’s speaker will be chief CNN medical correspondent and alumnus Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who earned his medical degree at U-M in 1993.

Gupta was the Obama administration’s first choice for Surgeon General but turned down the post to continue practicing as a neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.