Forty soon-to-be doctors at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine met their match during the school’s second annual Match Day celebration Friday. Suspense was high as each student learned where they would be going after graduation in May.

Match Day is part of the National Resident Matching Program, which pairs graduating or graduated medical students with residency programs across the country. It is a ceremony that has been played out on medical school campuses for decades. At the same moment the event was happening at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the drama unfolded at more than a hundred other medical schools across the country.

“Each of these excellent students is here today after years of hard work and focus, yet they are still in their 20s and 30s,” Dr. Cynda Johnson, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine told the packed auditorium. “Some have already pursued advanced degrees and other careers, but in 2011 they continued their journey here, where they would experience all the advantages and challenges of being the second matriculating class in a still-new medical school.”

As a class, the students have performed well, exceeding the national mean scores on their medical board exams.

“This, as well as other successes, has positioned them to compete successfully at the national level for a training position in their residency specialty and location of choice,” Johnson said. More than 35,000 students nationwide competed for 27,000 available positions.

Match Day involves a complex algorithm that matches students’ preferences for training site and specialty with the residency programs’ ranking of applicants.

The countdown in the school’s auditorium included a multimedia trip down memory lane for the students who entered the school as its second class in the fall of 2011. As part of the suspense, each student was given a sealed envelope with a letter detailing where they would spend the next segment of their medical careers. At noon, they tore open their envelopes – and emitted shouts of joy.

“We’re thrilled that for the second year in a row, we have had a 100 percent match rate,” Johnson said. “This means that all our fourth-year students were matched with one of their ranked residency programs. It shows just how competitive our students are in the national arena.”

Matches for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine included such heavy hitters as Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Emory, Vanderbilt, the University of Washington, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina, and Louisiana State University. The most frequently matched specialties were internal medicine and emergency medicine.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students were invited to interview at institutions in 41 states and the District of Columbia. They will be pursuing 18 specialties in 29 different programs dispersed across 18 states.

Four students will stay in Roanoke to do their training with Carilion Clinic. Another student will do his first year at Carilion before heading to Baltimore to complete his residency training in anesthesia. 

“Our students have been so graciously nurtured and welcomed into our community for the past four years,” said Dr. Aubrey Knight, the school’s associate dean for student affairs. “Even though it’s almost time to send them off on the next leg of their journey, it’s gratifying to see that some of them want to continue their time in Roanoke.”

The National Resident Matching Program started in 1952 in an effort to standardize how medical students are matched with residency programs. Students begin the process at the beginning of their final year of medical school by applying for residency programs. After the programs review the applications, selected candidates are invited to interview. When the interviews are complete, both the students and the programs compile ranked lists of their choices, in a process culminating in Match Day.

Written by Catherine Doss.
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