Over 150 students in the UNC School of Medicine found out their placement for residency training, the next step on their path toward becoming doctors, on Friday, March 15.
Unlike applying for undergraduate programs, these students aren’t given the option to select the location of their residency training. Rather, they apply to programs across the country, interview at some of these programs and then rank their top choices. Following the interviews, the programs also get to rank their top choice of students.
“The students spend time in the fall and in the winter interviewing at programs and then starting in January, and ending in February, the students and the programs enter their match list,” said Dr. Georgette Dent, associate dean for student affairs in the School of Medicine. “And then there is a computer program, it’s run by the NRMP, the National Residency Matching Program, that literally matches students to programs.”
Once both the students and the programs enter their choices, it becomes a waiting game until Match Day, held annually in March.
While the actual matching process is handled entirely through the NRMP computer program, Dent and her colleagues at the UNC School of Medicine still help their students prepare by refining resumes and practicing for interviews.
“We are involved in it, in terms of counseling and helping the students get ready,” Dent said. “There’s a lot of strategy involved in it.”
Determining the appropriate strategy for the application is dependent on the individual student, said Dr. Julie Byerley, executive vice dean for education of the UNC School of Medicine.
“Our advising is individually tailored. It depends on what discipline the student is entering and what their academic profile looks like,” Byerley said.
In some specialties there are more applicants than spots available, Byerley said.
“Then, it’s very competitive and we advise our students based on their own academic accomplishments and what is the typical profile for that particular discipline,” Byerley said.
These 156 students, graduating from the UNC School of Medicine in May, will complete their residency training in 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia. With a completed medical education, these students will work as resident physicians from anywhere to 3 to 5 years, depending on their specialty.
While the application process and interviews can be stressful, the end result is a celebration for all.
“It is such an exciting time, you know, regardless of the end outcome as far as what program people match into, it is such a celebration that they have jobs, that they are going to get to use their skills and their education and the hard work that they’ve put into doctoring,” Byerley said.
Anthony McClenny, a fourth-year student in the UNC School of Medicine and a graduate of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, found out he matched into his top choice of residency programs on Friday. McClenny will be continuing his path towards pediatrics in Washington, D.C. at the Children’s National Medical Center.
He compared the anxiety of waiting to find out his match to that of a state championship basketball game he played in during high school.
“You know, you’re excited to play, but at the same time, there’s so much at stake,” McClenny said.
Nearly a decade after his high school basketball days, McClenny said he felt like he was entering something similar to the NFL or NBA draft.
“I stopped playing basketball a long time ago, and I decided to compete for the academic draft. The medicine draft,” McClenny said. “It really is like a dream come true for someone, for all of us, who have spent literally a decade of our lives trying to make it into the league.”
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