UF med students find out where they're headed
Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.
Match Day is a storied tradition in the life of a medical student.
The top five specialties
Following are the five areas in which the most UF medical students will do their residencies in:
1. Internal medicine
3. Family medicine
5. Emergency medicine
*Note: 1-4 above are considered “primary care” specialties.
The third Friday in March marks the day when across the nation, at noon Eastern time, medical students find out where they will do their residencies.
On Friday in the Grand Ballroom at the Reitz Union, it was an exciting day for the 125 students soon to graduate from the University of Florida College of Medicine. Each student had their moment on stage, when they stood at the podium, opening the envelope with the name of their residency program inside, and announcing it to the crowd of families, friends and other supporters providing cheers.
John Ryder, 29, was one of the many euphoric students: Ryder is headed back north, to Dartmouth University, for his residency in psychiatry. After college at Harvard University, he picked UF for medical school because he’d never lived in the South.
“I’m so glad I came here,” Ryder said, adding that UF’s program has been great preparation for the hard work ahead of him.
Like many medical students, Ryder came in with a fairly strong sense of what he wanted to pursue — neurology in his case. But along the way, he fell in love with another, related branch of medicine and will spend the next four years preparing to be an adult psychiatrist.
As for Match Day, Ryder called it “amazing.”
“You’ve prepared for this all four years … when you finally get to be that specialist, that physician,” he said.
For the medical school faculty, Match Day is rewarding as well. Dr. Patrick Duff, the associate dean for student affairs and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said that an incredible process of maturation takes place during medical school, which culminates on this day.
“They start out like deer in the headlights,” Duff said, adding that the speed and volume of information first-year medical students are presented with has a fire-hose effect.
The first year for many students is about making that adjustment; the second year involves preparing for the medical licensing exam. The third year is spent in clinical clerkships, and the fourth in looking ahead to the residency.
Students started the application process for residencies last September, Duff said. “It’s an exciting but uncertain process,” he said. “They have to have blind faith.”
The actual matching process — which is based on an algorithm developed by Harvard economist Alvin Roth — lasts three weeks, starting the last Wednesday in February and ending the third Monday in March.
“It’s a win-win game,” for both students and residency programs, Duff said, adding that only about 2 percent of students will be disappointed by their match, but that is usually straightened out so that everyone is content heading off to their residencies.
Matching can be particularly challenging when medical student couples are involved.
“You have to cast your fate with someone else,” Duff said.
This year, 26 UF students (13 couples) matched to programs together.
UF medical students are increasingly going into primary care, an encouraging trend given the nationwide shortage of primary care physicians. This year, 47 percent of the class will go into a primary care specialty, which includes internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine and OB-GYN. That’s up from 41 percent last year.
“That’s good for us,” said Dr. Michael Good, dean of the College of Medicine. “We’re doing our part.”
Good said that students are especially interested in family medicine, perhaps owing to the strength of the UF program in that field — and the clinical experience students are able to gain at facilities such as the UF Health Family Medicine at Main Street, which opened nearly two years ago.
Good also touted the fact that all 125 students actually matched into a residency program. Matching isn’t a given, since the nation falls short of residency programs for the number of medical students it graduates.
That is because over a decade ago the Association of American Medical Colleges recognized the imminent shortage of doctors and encouraged medical schools to increase their student numbers, Good said, adding that UF increased its student enrollment to about 130 students per class, up from 100 prior to 2000.
But residency programs did not increase at the same rate, leaving a number of students without a program to jump into right after medical school.
UF students typically place because the school has a strong reputation, especially in clinical experience, Good continued.
“They know they are getting someone who is competent and skilled,” he said.
UF’s residency program also attracts some of the best and the brightest: This year, students will be coming from illustrious medical schools such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of California-San Francisco, Good said.
Twenty-three percent of UF’s class will remain at UF for their residency — the same as last year, while 36 percent will stay in Florida, up from 31 percent last year.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.