If you're not a doctor or not connected to one, you probably don't know about Match Day. And, really, why should you?
Match Day is the day that medical students discover if they will be starting residency somewhere. Technically, one can practice in some states with an MD and no residency, but it's not likely. Residency is the apprenticeship part of an MD's education, and (as I tell myself smack dab in the middle of the residency my spouse is enduring) it truly is valuable to their development and confidence in their chosen specialty.
Match Day works sort of like computer dating. At least that is the comparison I make; Medical students apply for residencies before the last year of medical school really gets cooking. They send all of their application materials, including a personal statement* and recommendation letters. The residency hosting hospitals they apply to then review their information and either put them in the no pile or in the interview pile. From there, the fun really begins--lots of traveling to the places that agreed to see you, attending a lot of resident dinner parties (it sounds more fun than it is), and to then go home at the end of weeks and months of interviewing and try to rank the programs you interviewed with.
Here's where the computer comes in. At this stage, the resident-hopefuls enter their rank list. The resident hosts enter their lists, as well. And somehow, a computer figures it all out using algorithms.
This all comes to its fruition in mid-March. Two years ago, on the Ides of March, we met friends for brunch at Ashley's in the Capitol Hotel in Little Rock. There were plenty of mimosas and bloody Marys as we sat and talked about who would be there, who they heard hadn't matched, where did they hope to go. Then, we walked to the ceremony where one by one, UAMS graduates got up on stage and opened the envelope that told them where they would work and live for the next few years. Some took their kids up with them and if they were old enough, they let the kids read. Others were obviously incredibly happy to see their match, while others were noticeably not as jubilant.
For those of you who match: Residency is exciting; you (or your new MD in your life) is finally done with medical school. Here are some tips now that you are over that hurdle:
A note for those who don't match:
A few years ago, Anthony Youn's "Why your waiter has an MD" helped shed light on the process. While not everyone in Dr. Dani's class matched in the first round, most of those we knew personally have. Don't give up if you're in the scramble. Elisabeth Olsen predicts that things are likely to get worse in her 2013 article, "Medical students confront a residency black hole." Go talk to the mentors you've been working with for the last four years and let them help you get back in the game if you come out of the scramble with no residency spot.
I can't speak about the whole couples match thing. I was fortunate that Dr. Dani went to medical school later in life and I was already armed with my PhD when we met. But Donna Baver Rovito's "Our Match Day Story and Resources You Can Use" from 3/19/2015 is likely to be a great read for those of you expecting to go through that particular experience.
*Did you know that I am pretty darn good with helping folks with personal statements? Whether it's for medical school, residency, or something else, I can help you out. Writing about yourself is hard. I also can help you with your statement of teaching philosophy. Email me. We'll talk.