Med Students Learn of Future During Match Day

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Graduating medical students across the country learned on Thursday where they will be spending the next three to six years as resident physicians during a day also known as annual Match Day.

In the final year of school, students rank and apply for their top choices. The National Resident Matching Program, a private, not-for-profit organization, uses an electric algorithm and pairs the aspiring doctors with hospitals that need their expertise.  

At Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx the mood was celebratory as students opened their long-awaited matching envelopes.  In the fall, Chikanele Okorie, 30, will be practicing obstetrics and gynecology at Temple University in Philadelphia. The native New Yorker said she is apprehensive about the move, but hopes to "learn a lot from Temple's high-risk obgyn population."

Many students said location, "lifestyle" and a passion for a particular field play into selecting their top choices.

Patrick Ogidan, 25, was assigned to internal medicine at New York Hospital in Flushing, Queens.  He was glowing at Thursday's celebration and said he is excited to be working in a "geographic location that serves an ethnically diverse population." Ogidan also said he applied to specific programs that "offered international opportunities" for residents to learn and practice overseas.

Each year, approximately 16,000 U.S. medical school students and another 20,000 independent applicants compete for about 25,000 available residency positions. Students said the matching residency programs are significant because it sets the course for their career. 

According to the National Resident Matching Program, 2010 was the first year that the number of successful matches for U.S. seniors reached 94 percent.

For the second year in a row, more U.S. seniors will train to be primary and family care physicians.  Despite this increase, Stephan Baum, Einstein's Senior Associate Dean of Students, said there is still a "mismatch between what society needs" and the medical fields students choose to pursue.  

The National Resident Matching Program said in a statement that in 2010 some of the most popular residency program were dermatology, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery and radiation oncology.  U.S. seniors filled at least 90 percent of those residency positions.