The annual drama known as medical school match day is over for this year.
Graduating medical students nationwide found out Friday where they’re going for their residency training, which is anywhere for three to six years, depending on the specialty. The best comparison might be to the NFL draft, as college football players discover where they’re going to play pro football. With young doctors, a computer matches applicants with residency programs.
The day is infused with excitement and joy as the students open their envelopes with the news.
“Plastic surgery at Wake Forest!” shouted one student as his family and the crowd cheered Friday at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.
Similar scenes played out at every medical school in the nation.
“This is a huge, immense pressure on all of us, it’s just a weight lifted off our shoulders because, like I said, this is something we’ve been working for for four years,” said Sydney Stillman, a graduating student at NSU’s Patel College of Allopathic Medicine. “It’s finally led to this moment where we’re able to figure out where we’re going, be a doctor, have a career, and it’s so fulfilling and so amazing and I’m very excited.”
The 49 students in the first graduating class of the Patel College matched somewhere, but every year, about 3,000 medical school grads, each of them doctors on paper, don’t match anywhere and they can’t practice medicine until they get that required post-graduate training.
“The availability of residencies is much, much smaller than the student numbers that we have so it’s highly competitive,” said Dr. Johannes Vieweg, the college’s dean.
Vieweg says the bottleneck of residency slots is one factor contributing to a severe shortage of doctors nationwide and in Florida and says Congress should fund more residency positions around the country.
“Right now, we’re dealing here with a crisis that if you want to go to an endocrinologist, you have to wait for nine months, can you imagine that? I mean if you’re a diabetic person needing an endocrinologist, to wait that long is just unacceptable,” Vieweg said.
“I’m so excited for everybody and all I can hope is that we are making a dent in the shortage,” said medical student Stephanie Pearson.
The medical students on the verge of graduating and going on to their residency programs are part of the solution. Some of them are determined to inspire others to follow their medical dreams. For example, Eric Young made the highly improbable career change from tattoo artist to physician.
“Just being able to do my part, give back to my community, make a big impact, try to empower somebody else and lead the way so definitely a big achievement,” Young said, understating the magnitude of what he has accomplished.
He is going to the University of Chicago Medical Center in emergency medicine.