Med students open their career paths

Tiff Clements

Fourth-year medical student Brian Teng has wanted to be a doctor since he was very young. He remembers making drawings in kindergarten of himself as a doctor.

“My grandfather was a surgeon, so I kind of grew up in that environment,” he said.

Teng, along with about 200 other fourth-year medical students, waited for the clock to strike 11 a.m. Thursday at the McNamara Alumni Center. At that time, they opened what appeared to be innocuous white envelopes that contained important news about the next step in their medical careers.

Match Day is an annual nationwide event marking the day in which fourth-year medical students find out where they will complete their residencies. To synchronize the event nationally, medical schools aren’t allowed to release placements to students until noon EST.

The process

During the third year of medical school, students begin to apply for residencies, a three-to-four-year stint of practice in a specific field of medicine.

“From when you start medical school, you kind of think about what you want to do when you finish,” said fourth-year medical student Megan Clinton, who is the president of the University’s Medical School class of 2006.

“In the third year, you do all your rotations in the different specialties,” Clinton said, “and you need to know what you want to do between your third and fourth year.”

Clinton said students research residency programs and complete applications and interviews, narrowing their focus to fewer programs.

Mona Signer, executive director of the National Resident Match Program, said once students have applied and interviewed with programs, they can register with the matching service.

“Students submit a list of programs where they would like to train, in order of preference,” she said, “At the same time, programs submit lists of applicants that they’d like to train at their program.”

Signer said the rankings from both programs and students are completed in February. A computer program then matches students with programs based on the preferences of both.

Scramble

The national match program notified all registered participants as to whether they matched but did not give information about where or in what programs. Students who did not match to a residency program were forced to scramble.

The National Resident Match Program released a list of programs with open positions for those who did not match as of March 13. Those students had to contact the programs Tuesday and Wednesday to try to find a match by Thursday.

Scott Davenport, the University’s Match Day coordinator, said 11 students did not match. He said this is an average number for students who go unmatched each year and that the unmatched students found programs by Thursday.

Matches

According to a news release from the National Resident Match Program, 84.6 percent of students in the 2006 match were placed in one of their top three choices.

Megan Clinton said her match in an anesthesiology program at the University of North Carolina was her top choice. She said her husband is a die-hard Gophers fan, but they both are excited about this opportunity.

Others are a bit more apprehensive. Brian Teng said his placement in a general surgery program in Buffalo, N.Y., was not one of his top choices.

“I’m still letting it sink in,” he said Thursday.

Kais Alsharif and Mitra Fatourechi met during their first year of medical school at the University. Through the National Resident Match Program’s couples match, they were placed together in Rochester. The couple won’t be in the same program; her interest is in internal medicine while his is in surgery. But they said they are happy they were placed in the same city.