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The Dose

Welcome to The Dose, which tackles the business and economics inside the turbulent world of health care and life sciences in Indiana. Your host is John Russell. To contact me call 317-472-5383.

The nail-biting is over for medical students

March 21, 2016

It’s one of the most stressful days for medical students, up there with the Academy Awards ceremony for actors or NFL Draft Day for college football players.

They finally get an answer to the nerve-racking question: “Did I make it?”

Around the country, the answer came on Friday for tens of thousands of medical students, including 327 students at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

At "Match Day" ceremonies in medical schools from California to Maine, medical students opened envelopes and learned where they would do their residency training for the next three to seven years.

For IU’s graduating medical students, this is what the future holds:

·        Students were accepted in residency programs at medical institutions in 34 states, including Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Stanford and Baylor.

·        35 percent of the students will pursue at least part of their residencies in Indiana.

·        69 students will be residents at IU Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children, other IU Health facilities, Eskenazi Health or the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

·        48 percent will enter primary-care programs, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.

The students were matched through the National Resident Matching Program of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The program uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences and achievements of applicants with the preferences of program.

Several months ago, medical students began studying residency programs, ranking their preferences and interviewing with officials.

When students opened envelopes on Friday, they learned a lot about their fate: whether they got one of their top choices, how far they would have to move, and whether any of their classmates, friends or significant others would join them.

Nationally, 42,370 medical students registered for a match, and 26,836 were picked by a residency program.

Of course, that means – just like on NFL Draft Day, when many college football players realize they will never play professional football – thousands of medical students did not get matched with a residency program.

The top reasons that students didn’t get matched: low scores on a medical licensing exam, poor interviewing skills, or they were just outgunned for their top picks for extremely competitive residency programs, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Of these unmatched students, nearly one-half had been discussed in promotions committees at their schools, indicating they had performance problems, the association said.

Students who don’t get picked (or “matched”) by a residency program have a few options. Many of them  re-enter the Match the following year, sometimes with a different specialty. Others take a research year.

And for some, their careers are effectively over before they begin. Although they have earned an MD degree, they can’t practice medicine without a residency program.

IU, the only medical school in Indiana and the largest in the country, said 4.3 percent of its student failed to get a residency match, even after a second round.

School officials said that students in some programs, including the military, urology and ophthalmology, learned in previous months where they would continue their education.

IU medical students will receive their medical degrees on May 7.

 

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