Virtual Match Day: OUWB medical students learn their residencies

On Friday, March 19th,  fourth-year medical students at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) participated in Match Day, the event in which medical students across the country learn where they are going to take the next step in their medical training and complete their residencies.

Medical students start the match process in the fall of their last year of medical school. The process includes applying to and interviewing with residency programs and creating a ranked list in order of program preferences. 

Additionally, the directors of these programs also create a ranked list of students in order of preference. These lists are then submitted to a nonprofit, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The NRMP then combines the ranked lists and uses a mathematical algorithm to place applicants into residency programs in a complicated but well-designed process. The researchers who developed the algorithm were even awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

After the long process, medical students wait in suspense to find out where they will be training until Match Day. Tens of thousands of future physicians learn on the same day and at the same time. It is truly a career-defining moment.

Austin Morris, a fourth-year medical student at OUWB who matched in Internal Medicine at Beaumont Royal Oak, described Match Day as “exciting.”

“I was pretty comfortable where I was at,” Morris said. “I knew I had a pretty good idea of where I was going to stay. I liked Beaumont. I liked the program. It’s local, and I’m from the area, to begin with. For me, I was more excited than anything.”

A total of 114 medical students from OUWB’s class of 2021 matched in residency programs across 24 different states, with 35% of students matching in Michigan. Some medical students (13%) will be continuing their training in Beaumont residency programs in seven specialties. Forty-three percent of OUWB medical students matched in primary care residencies. The top 5 specialties that OUWB students matched in include family medicine (19%), emergency medicine (15%), internal medicine (14%), general surgery (5%) and diagnostic radiology (5%).

In a pre COVID-19 world, this was a day of celebration with large festivities.  This year, celebrations at OUWB were virtual, and students found out where they had matched via an email from NRMP.

Morris detailed where he had matched with his fiancée and shared his appreciation for how the medical school was still able to make the day special.

 “I give the university a lot of credit,” Morris said. “They were put in a tough spot with the way the pandemic played out to try and make this day as special as it has been in the past, and I think they did a really good job of connecting us as students, connecting us with faculty and making sure that everyone felt included.”

Considering Internal Medicine as his future specialty, Morris emphasized patient interaction.

“The big draw for internal medicine was just that — patient interaction,” Morris said. “I love connecting with people, I love having a long-term relationship where I get to see people get better, I get to see them grow and I get to see them achieve their goals. It’s the theme that internal medicine really presents — it’s the opportunity to see the patient as everything they really are. Both their health conditions and who they are outside of the hospital. That’s why I really liked internal medicine.”

As he approaches the start of  residency in July, Morris was reflective.

“Things are real now,” he said. “You’re no longer a student — you’re a physician. You’re a resident physician, and people are going to be relying on you for their care. People are going to be relying on you to take care of them and to diagnose them.I think it’s a good balance of excitement and nervousness.”

As his time at Oakland University comes to an end, Morris echoed what many post-graduate professionals feel. He recognizes the sacrifices that the people important to him made on his behalf.

 “I just want to thank my family, friends and fiancée for the support that they have given me,” Morris said.