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The Magic of Match Day

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Is matching to a residency program the luck of the draw or luck of the Irish?

St. Patrick’s Day coincides with Match Day for the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) 2017 Main Residency Match®. Celebrations will ensue as thousands of medical school students and graduates in the United States and around the world learn the specialty and location of the residency programs where they will train for the next three to seven years.

For everyone involved in the delivery of health care, the Match has become a harbinger for the supply of new doctors to serve a growing and aging population throughout the U.S.

This year, the Match brings encouraging news. NRMP predicts this will be the largest match year ever, exceeding the more than 42,000 applicants who registered for the 2016 Match and the more than 4,800 residency programs at institutions across the country that offered more than 30,000 positions last year.

But even as new physicians prepare to enter the market, demographics dictate that demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply, creating more recruitment competition, especially in underserved areas.

Is it the Match Magic? Not Really

Just like medicine, the Match is exciting, yet far from magical. It takes both art and science to align applicants’ preferences with available programs. The art of human interaction and the science of a computerized mathematical algorithm both factor into the rigorous application, interview and selection process.

The Main Residency Match process begins in the fall for applicants, usually during the final year of medical school, when they send applications to the residency programs of their choice. Throughout the fall and early winter, applicants interview with programs. From mid-January to late February, applicants and program directors rank each other in order of preference and submit the preference lists to NRMP, which processes them using a computerized mathematical algorithm to match applicants with programs.

According to NRMP, the preferences expressed on the rank order lists submitted by applicants, not programs, initiate placement into residency training. As a result, no applicant could obtain a better outcome than the one produced by the algorithm.

And what factors do graduating medical students consider to be the important factors when ranking their top choice? Culture counts! “Resident esprit de corps” and “faculty availability and involvement in teaching” are among their top five priorities, according to a study published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

Is it Life Changing? Likely

“Match Week is an exciting rite of passage in the lives of medical students,” says Mona M. Signer, NRMP President and CEO. “Years of hard work and dedication have led to this defining moment, and it is our privilege to share in this life-changing event.”

In fact, the location where residents train may very well be where they begin their first practice – and even marry!

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), nearly half of physicians practice in the state where they completed their Graduate Medical Education. Two-thirds of physicians who complete both their Under-graduate and Graduate Medical Education in the same state remained in the stat to practice.

And what about marriage? When it comes to the ultimate “match” – the prevalence of healthcare couples is on the rise. Nearly 40 percent of physicians are likely to marry another physician or healthcare professional, according to the Work/Life Profiles of Today’s Physician survey, conducted by AMA Insurance.

A Career-Long Journey

Match Day is just one stop on a physician’s journey in search of a great match and the right fit their medical career. Talk with an experienced recruiter about how to secure your ideal practice in a community you and your family will love. Check out our job list to see what is may be waiting for you!

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