Speaker: Sarah Wolff, COSGP National AOF Student Representative
Written by: Andrew Cudmore, ATSU-SOMA
Match week is an exciting time that differs greatly among medical schools. The AOA announces matches for its residency programs on the second Friday in February whereas the NRMP announces their matches for residency programs on the third Friday of March annually. The constant variable is an “unmatched report” is sent to medical schools for each student at 11:30 A.M. on the Monday to start the match week. Students are then notified if they matched and open spots are shared at noon just thirty minutes later. Four days later, students are notified of where they matched at 1 P.M. on Friday in a variety of ways.
There are benefits for having the delay in notification that keeps the nail-biting schedule intact from year to year. The students are part of a great celebration when the stress of unknowing is finally relieved. The schools get an opportunity to disseminate information for Graduation as well as increase alumni participation through fostering a sense of community and school pride during fourth year. Many questions remain after scheduling, however, and schools handle the process very differently from one another.
The issue of which match to celebrate, whether it should be military, SF match, the AOA, or NRMP or some sort of combination is something schools need to address. From there, the question of who should attend remains. Students receiving time off rotations can be a fickle process, and getting some away for a match celebration that they are not involved in can be a daunting task. Inviting other classes, family members, and friends also raises questions as to how to broadcast the event and properly plan.
Formality of the announcements can range from costumed parties with raffles and games to business attire with four course meals and speakers. Either way, the method of releasing results is one of the biggest differentiating factors of the ceremonies. If a student is not content with their results, it can possibly lead to a shameful event with unwanted attention. Our speaker suggested having a line of students come up to have someone read their match aloud after privately opening. This way, those who did not want to be announced could simply bow out and the focus would be diverted to those who wished to participate.
Once an idea for a match week ceremony has been established, great attention to planning must go into the process every year. Students with busy rotation schedules must be given notifications to save the date far in advance. What type of hotel accommodations, flight discounts, drinks, food, entertainment, and afterhours events should also be laid out for the festivities beforehand.
The event sets the stage for a terrific photo opportunity for the alumni involved. Gifts and award presentations can also be included to contribute to the celebratory atmosphere.
The major points to remember about match day is that it takes time to organize and that the passing down of documents is vital to get support for all four years of medical school. The exciting step that students take when entering residency deserves proper attention so that the lasting memory of their school’s care can be appreciated.