It’s that day, if you’re in medical education.
Really, it’s the whole week. Monday is the “big” hurdle, when those students who have successfully matched into residency can stop worrying if they matched and can move on to worrying about where they matched. Monday is also the day when students who did not match get very busy for a couple of days as part of the SOAP (Supplemental Offer & Acceptance Program), seeking an unfilled spot that will meet their educational and professional needs.
Admittedly it’s been a few years since my Match Day but I still remember it quite clearly. There was a huge sense of relief about finally knowing where I would be headed in June; I had known for months that I wasn’t staying in Central Texas, though I had no idea of the long-term implications of matching at Utah for my career. 16 years later, here I am, still in Salt Lake (albeit with that year I went back for fellowship in Texas as part of the equation). Subsequent match days have been filled with excitement from seeing who would be following me in the residency program, then who would be “my” residents once I became faculty. As I’ve become increasingly involved with the medical students over the last 5 years, it’s become a day of pride and celebration as I see where students whom I have mentored find out what the next chapter in their professional lives will be.
Understanding the match process can be a little complicated. Essentially, students apply for residency interviews. After the interview season is complete, the student and the interviewing programs each make a rank list in order of preference. A computer then runs an exceptionally complicated algorithm (and one that favors the students over the programs, appropriately) and voila- matches are made. If it tells you anything at all, the economists who designed the Match algorithm won the Nobel Prize in 2012. Generally speaking, the system works and works well.
So, today. Match Day 2014. Approximately 17,500 senior medical students in the U.S. will find out where they’ll be in 3 short months on the next part of their journey as a physician. To those of you whom I know…and those whom I don’t…wishing you good luck today that you land in a place that will be just right for you.