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April 2, 2015 Volume 36, No. 25

Match Day 2015: MU medical students in high demand for residency programs

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Graduating medical students Woody and Katie Smelser open their envelopes to discover where they will be doing their residencies. Photo by Justin Kelley.

Ninety-nine percent of the class received a residency program match

After four years of medical school and countless hours of anticipation, medical students gathered March 20 at the School of Medicine to get a glimpse of what their future holds.

This was Match Day 2015. For 101 graduating medical students at MU and hundreds of others across the nation, it’s a day to rip open sealed letters to discover where they will spend the next three to seven years in their first jobs as physicians, training in their chosen specialties.

More than 40,000 medical school graduates competed for approximately 29,000 residency positions this year.

The School of Medicine’s 2015 class was highly sought: 99 percent of the class received a residency program match, meaning many hospitals and health systems chose graduating MU medical students as their top residency candidates. The MU matches were above the national average, which is 94 percent.

Forty-six percent of the MU School of Medicine 2015 class will remain in Missouri, and 49 percent of this graduating class selected residency programs in high-need primary care fields, including internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.

This annual event of the National Resident Matching Program pairs medical students across the nation with physician residency programs. Students rank their residency program choices in order of preference, and residency program directors rank their choices among the students. With the information from students’ and residency directors’ rankings, the National Resident Matching Program determines the best matches for students and residency programs.

For Woody Smelser, a fourth-year medical student from New Madrid, Missouri, who is president of his medical school class, opening his envelope on Match Day sparked waves of emotion. Not only was Smelser anxious to know if he’d been matched for the residency of his choice, but his wife, Katie Smelser, was also a graduating medical student.

The national program allows for students to participate in the match as a couple. Woody is specializing in urology and Katie wanted a residency program in internal medicine and pediatrics. On March 20, they learned they had been matched near each other geographically, with Woody’s residency at University of Kansas Medical Center and Katie’s at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Of all the emotions today, relief is the one that stands out the most because we will be together,” Katie said.