Match Day suspense: Medical students learn their future residency destinations

March 22, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News,

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Last Friday, 169 U-M medical students anxiously learned their next steps in becoming future health care providers. Each student received an online notification from the National Residency Match Program, which revealed their residency destinations.

The residency application process for this year’s senior class was truly unique. Due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they joined medical students across the country in being the first in history to complete their residency interviews entirely online.

“Both new skills and decision-making tools were required in this process,” said Erin McKean, M.D., M.B.A., assistant dean for student services. “The Office of Medical Student Education provided funds to students in need of technology upgrades and private spaces for virtual interviewing. In addition, alumni from our medical school across the country partnered with our students to help them practice for virtual interviews. They also offered virtual tours of residency program sites, given the fact that students couldn’t travel to locations in person. This was incredibly impactful.”

Because of continued limitations on in-person events, the medical school hosted a virtual celebration and invited students, family, friends, faculty, staff and alumni to share in the Match Day excitement via a special website. There, the fourth-year medical students could “pin” their residency locations on a virtual map and follow along as their peers shared their news, photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #GoBlueMatch.

Infographic with student data from Match Day 2021.

A resounding 98.2% of U-M Medical School students matched, which exceeds the national average of 92.8% percent. 32.9% of the students will stay in Michigan for their next level of training, which includes 22.0% who plan to continue their education at Michigan Medicine. The rest will embark on training in 30 other states.

“We recently reached the one-year anniversary of when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it’s fair to say that all of us have run the gamut of emotions — from uncertainty to exhaustion to gratitude,” said Rajesh Mangrulkar, M.D., associate dean for medical student education. “But our senior medical students have been resilient and inspiring through it all,” noting that this class led the launch of the pandemic course, as well as the enduring service organization called the M-Response Corps.

“This class has been thrust into service and leadership at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and I think they are indelibly changed as they enter residency in ways we cannot even fathom,” Mangrulkar continued. “With graduation just a few short weeks away, I am confident that our students will continue to make meaningful contributions to our profession as leaders and change agents. We are all so proud of them and honored to celebrate all that they’ve achieved.”

Some notable accomplishments for this year’s senior medical students:

  • 27 students will graduate with both a medical degree from U-M and an advanced degree in another field from a top-ranked graduate program at U-M, Stanford, Colombia and elsewhere. These degrees include Ph.D.’s as part of U-M’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), or master’s degrees in public health, clinical research or business. Three students have also completed both a medical degree and a residency program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
  • While COVID-19 has elicited feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, it also inspired a groundswell of humanitarianism. When the pandemic impacted their world, U-M’s medical students immediately wanted to make a difference — and they have. Members of the quickly formed M-Response Corps worked tirelessly to meet an endless stream of pandemic-related needs since last March, involving over 500 medical students.
  • The U-M Medical School offers students the chance to choose a “Path of Excellence,” a scholarly concentration where they can complete their project, such as health policy, scientific research or global medicine, nurturing their passion and interests from the moment they enter medical school.
  • Beginning with this cohort of graduating students, the U-M Medical School now requires students to complete a Capstone for Impact (CFI) project, as they build experience in learning how to lead change in medicine. 82% of the matching students completed a CFI project this year. Projects ranged from developing a novel supplemental oxygen therapy control system, to training and deploying U-M Medical Students as respiratory therapist extenders during COVID-19, and building an equitable surgical training pipeline.

“Our graduating students have reminded us of just how remarkable they are in these challenging times,” said Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs at U-M and dean of the U-M Medical School. “Through observing their many demonstrations of leadership, I am confident that the future of health care is in very good hands. Congratulations to the class of 2021.”

For more about Match Day, please visit http://www.nrmp.org.

And for more about Match Day at the U-M Medical School, please visit: https://michmed.org/gobluematch.

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