Taking that next big step
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UI Carver College of Medicine student Wanakee Carr, of Des Moines, reads her letter announcing her residency match. She will be headed to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City – her top choice. Photo by Susan McClellan.
Wanakee Carr has spent most of her life leading up to this one moment on this one day: The day she learns where her four years in medical school will land her for her residency.
“I think most of us are really looking forward to starting that next part of our journey, but it’s going to be a little strange. We’re leaving our school,” says Carr, 27, of Des Moines. “For some of us, this is a bigger day than our graduation was.”
Today (Friday, March 21) is Match Day—the day when more than 32,000 medical school graduates around the world learn where they will be doing their residencies. The students created a field of hospitals and centers where they’d like to work, interviewed at many of them, then ranked them according to their preference, according to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).
On the flip side, directors of residency programs at those institutions create a similar list—theirs ranking the candidates according to the program’s preference. The lists of both the candidates and the programs are entered into a computer, and an algorithm creates a “match,” putting candidates with programs.
Though students learned on Monday whether they’d matched at all—those who didn’t match were given this week to scramble to find a program—the envelopes containing the student’s name and their matched program aren’t handed out until 11 a.m. central time today. Medical school students around the world receive their envelopes at the same time.
Like most other medical school graduates, Carr, the president of this year’s class of medical school graduates, learned Monday she had matched in an OB/GYN program, but didn’t know where.
Today, she knows.
“Good things, good things all around, I got my top choice,” Carr says, still grasping the envelope with her residency assignment. "I had to read the letter three times to make sure I was reading it right, but there it is."
Carr interviewed at and ranked 12 programs. University of Kansas Hospital —KU Med—was her top three choice. She chose to leave Iowa for her residency, but says she expects to return to her home state.
“I think it’s time to leave Iowa for training purposes, see how other hospitals work,” she says. “I do see myself coming back to Iowa at some point, I see myself back in Des Moines.”
About Match Day 2014 at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine:
Among this year's graduating class of 150 students, 39 percent (58 students) chose primary care specialties, which include family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics. There were 16 matches in family medicine programs, 17 in internal medicine, 10 in obstetrics and gynecology, and 16 in pediatrics.
Among this year's graduates, 49 will remain in Iowa for their first year of postgraduate training, and 37 of these 49 students will train next year at UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Geographically, the most popular state after Iowa for first-year training was California, with 11 graduating students beginning their residencies there. Wisconsin will receive 10 UI graduates, and Minnesota and Missouri will each receive eight.
This year's match results, including individual results by name, state, and specialty, will be available online.
The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) helps place graduating medical students in such programs. Most of the students who will earn medical degrees at the UI this year (146 of the 150 students) participated in the NRMP. Two students secured their residency through the armed forces, and two students opted to defer residency training.
In the past, students who didn’t match on the Monday of Match Week were given an opportunity to find a match outside their list of preferences, but that no longer happens, according to Damien Ihrig, registrar for the Carver College of Medicine.
“The NRMP and the AAMC Electronic Residency Application Service jointly provide the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program during Match Week for students who partially matched or who didn’t match at all,” he says.