Soon-to-be UW doctor of medicine graduates began gathering in the lobby, along with their families, friends and faculty mentors. Many glanced hopefully at the boxes, which stood in alphabetical groupings.
Every year in March, on Residency Program Matching Day, graduating students at medical schools across the country learn their residency placements at the same time, noon EDT. After medical school, newly minted medical doctors go on to three to seven years or more of graduate medical education, the formal term for residency training, in a selected primary care or specialty field. They will be intensely involved in caring for patients and in learning and honing clinical skills, under the supervision of attending physicians, throughout this training.
At 9 a.m. Seattle time, and simultaneously in Boise, Anchorage, Spokane and Billings — locations of the UW School of Medicines five-state M.D. programs main clinical education offices — students opened their boxes.
“Congratulations, you have been matched!” the official note inside proclaimed. Beneath was the program and location. Couples kissed. Friends hugged. News of places classmates would be going after graduation spread in waves.
This year 211 UW School of Medicine graduates participated in the National Residency Matching Program. The program takes students choices of residency programs, and residency programs choices of students, and compares the lists to try to make a match.
This year 99 percent of the UW students participating were matched to a residency program on their list. A few of the UW students, such as those entering military residency programs, already knew their match information, but came to the celebration to receive their official Match letters and to congratulate their classmates.