Match Day Leaves Most Medical Students Jumping for Joy

20131004_165754Last week’s Match Day saw many celebrations throughout the country as 4th year medical students learned where they’ll be spending their residency years. A quick glance at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on Friday saw countless photos of students laughing, jumping for joy, and even a handful of proposals as long-awaited envelopes were opened.

The National Residency Matching Process, more commonly known simply as “the Match”, is a process that combines feelings of excitement and trepidation in much the same way as the medical school application process. Kaplan’s Emily Hause, a current medical student and regular writer for the Med School Pulse blog, describes the Match as similar to sorority rush. “They have a secret list of ideal candidates and you have your ranked lists of ideal places to end up. However, unlike some sororities, the NRMP is very official and explicit in their selection process.”

The algorithm used in the Match, according to the NRMP website, “begins with an attempt to match an applicant to the program most preferred on that applicant’s rank order list (ROL).  If the applicant cannot be matched to that first choice program, an attempt is made to place the applicant into the second choice program, and so on, until the applicant obtains a tentative match or all the applicant’s choices on the ROL have been exhausted.”

Unfortunately, not every medical student successfully matches – according to initial data from the AAMC, ‘it appears that several hundred U.S. medical students did not match to a first-year residency training program” in 2014. With a looming shortage of physicians in the U.S. and the recent expansion of seats in both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, there are very real fears that the problem will only get worse in years to come, as “there may be too few residency positions for all the newly graduated doctors in the not-too-distant future.”

Fortunately, both the AAMC and AACOM have recognized the issue and are actively working with the government in an effort to expand funding for Graduate Medical Education. As the system for medical education continues to evolve in the coming years, one thing is certain – Kaplan will continue working with students to support them throughout their journey towards becoming successful physicians.