Match Day 2013

Each year in March, medical students across the nation participate in a half-century-old tradition that brings tears of joy or sadness to those involved: Match Day. On March 15, 161 fourth-year students at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine found out the residency programs to which they had been accepted.

Residency is a critical period in physicians’ education and training. It is during residency that they get fully immersed in the high pressure and long hours of hospital work. Residency programs are also highly competitive: Roughly 16,000 American medical students vie for 25,000 slots every year. An additional 20,000 applicants from previous graduating classes and international medical schools also enter the pool. Add in the complexity of matching students with residency programs in the subfield of medicine they intend to practice, and you have the potential for chaos.

In 1952, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) was founded to help organize the process of pairing graduating medical students across the country with the hospital or medical center of their choice. After participating in a round of interviews, students rank the residency programs they most want to attend, and the programs rank the students they most want to take on. The NRMP then processes those lists using an algorithm that attempts to give all students and programs their top choices.

The NRMP also tries to match married couples with residencies in the same city, though finding a perfect fit is challenging. This year, John and Martha Kole, two of Penn’s medical students, who also happened to be married, shared their thoughts and perspectives via a Match Day blog.

Text by Evan Lerner
Photos by Rob Press via Penn Medicine