March Madness — With a Stethoscope

Just as basketball fans wait every year for the tradition, excitement and upsets of March Madness, medical students await the same with Match Day. Fourth-year medical students attending received news they have worked four years to achieve. Approximately 129 medical students from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine participated in Match Day.

On Match Day, medical students across the country find out where they will serve their residencies for the next three to five years. The results are opened simultaneously at all of the nation’s medical schools.

According to the 2010 Main Residency Match, more than 4,100 graduate medical education programs offered 22,809 first-year and 2,711 second-year positions.

Steven L. Berk, M.D., TTUHSC executive vice president and provost and dean of the School of Medicine, said this demonstrates the competition for residency positions has heightened.

“The Class of 2012 has a record of excellence in course work, patient care and community service,” Berk said. “We are proud of our students’ accomplishments and share their excitement as they pursue their careers at outstanding teaching programs around the country.”

Months before Match Day, students begin applying to residency programs in their preferred specialty. Students visit sites to evaluate and ultimately rank their preferred residency programs. At the same time, administrators at each site interview applicants and rank them as well. The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) coordinates this process and makes the final match algorithm which is designed to produce results for students to fill the thousands of training positions available at U.S. teaching hospitals.

Berk says although Match Day is celebrated one day, the event is actually a week-long process. The process of Match Day is celebrated at the 137 U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Starting on the Monday of Match Week NRMP applicants are informed whether they have been matched to a residency program of their choice, but the student is not told the name of that program. The next day, the locations of remaining unfilled residency positions are released to the unmatched applicants.

The match was established in 1952, at the request of medical students, to provide a fair and impartial transition from medical school to residency. In 2010 the NRMP enrolled 4,176 residency programs in the Match, which altogether offered 25,520 positions. A total of 52,565 U.S. and international medical students, approximately 27,000 of which were U.S. senior medical students, participated in the NRMP in 2010.

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