March Madness — With A Stethoscope

TTUHSC Match Day

Just as March Madness grips sports fans across the country, another spring March tradition with the same excitement awaits the fates of 177 medical students with Match Day. At precisely 11 a.m. (CDT), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine fourth-year students opened their envelopes simultaneously with students across the country to reveal where they will spend the next three to seven years as residents and what specialty they will pursue for their professional career.

Match Day is a nerve-wracking event that has played out on medical school campuses across the country since 1952. Months before Match Day, students begin applying to residency programs in their preferred specialties. Students visit sites to evaluate and ultimately rank their preferred residency programs. At the same time, administrators at each site interview and rank applicants.

TTUHSC Match DayThe National Resident Matching Program 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.

This year Steven L. Berk, M.D., TTUHSC executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said for most students it has been an eight-year journey or longer, intense study and clinical training, a lot of discipline and self-sacrifice and the additional challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since October, they have been interviewing by Zoom to determine which program works best for them.

“This class went through the third- and fourth-year, doing their clinical rotations at the time of COVID,” Berk said. “And so that's difficult enough to be introduced to the wards, after the first two years, but they were introduced to the clinics and wards during the pandemic with everyone wearing masks; and a concern for their own health and safety. And yet, by all our measurements, this class is outstanding. Their knowledge base has not been affected in any negative way by the pandemic, and their enthusiasm for medicine, if anything is greater, fueled by the pandemic and the pride that they have in the profession of medicine.”

TTUHSC Match DayThis year, TTUHSC School of Medicine students matched to institutions including UT Southwestern (10 students), UCLA, Brown University, Dartmouth, Mayo Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai and George Washington University.

Of the 177 TTUHSC students, 19% matched at one of the 22 TTUHSC programs; 57% are remaining in Texas; while 52% of the students matched to a primary care residency program. 

“Our students receive a quality education and provide exceptional health care across the country,” Berk said. “This was the first year that the AAMC did a survey, where they asked program directors all over the country to rate students from specific medical schools, students that were in their residency program. And 38% of our students were rated as exceeding expectations from program directors. That was an outstanding report that showed us that we're really training medical students in the best possible way.”

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