The Envelope, Please! Match Day Provides a Long-Awaited Answer
The Match Day celebration at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will take place on the 2nd floor of the Armstrong Medical Education Building, 1600 McElderry Street in Baltimore. The students, along with family members, friends and mentors, will gather for brunch at 10:45 a.m., followed by a brief program leading up to the dramatic moment at 12 noon, when students will open envelopes telling them which hospital and specialty program has accepted them for their residency.
“Some of the top specialties of interest to our students this year are pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, ophthalmology and general surgery,” says Thomas W. Koenig, M.D, associate dean for student affairs at Hopkins. “After residency training in those and other disciplines, many go on to fellowships in specialized areas of medicine, such as cardiology and gastroenterology, or pursue training in surgical sub-specialties, such as vascular or thoracic surgery,” Koenig says.
This year, 13 students have applied for internal medicine residencies compared with 27 last year and 33 the year before that. However, 15 graduating Hopkins students this year are going into pediatrics compared with 10 last year. One of the students applied for a family medicine residency.
Nationally, last year there was an 8 percent increase in students entering internal medicine residencies and a 3 percent rise in 2010. Pediatrics, another primary care specialty, had increases of 3 percent in 2011 and 2 percent in 2010 across the nation.
Match Day takes place on the same day every year at medical schools around the country. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) pairs the wishes of the students with the needs of hospitals’ residency programs. Prior to Match Day, students complete lengthy paperwork and on-site interviews with hospitals and then provide a ranked list of top choices. Hospitals submit a similar list indicating openings, preferred students, and specialty or generalist preferences. Each applicant is matched via computer algorithm to the hospital residency program that is highest on the applicant’s list and has offered the applicant a position. Johns Hopkins students often match to their first- or second-choice sites.
For married couples, there’s a special process that links their applications so that they can be in the same city if not at the same hospital. Amanda and Karan Kumar hope to match at the same location. She wants to be an anesthesiologist and his chosen path is pediatrics. “We went through a lot of discussion and compromise to decide on our final rank order list to find a program that was exceptional in both of our fields and a good fit for us,” says Karan.
The couple met in their first year of medical school and quickly developed a strong friendship. Karan, whose parents are from India, was born in Kenya. At age 8, his family moved to Toronto. Amanda, who is of Chinese heritage, grew up in Ohio. Her parents emigrated to the U.S. after escaping from Cambodia in 1979 as war refugees of the Khmer Rouge.
“As children of immigrants, Karan and I quickly realized that we were raised with similar upbringing, cultural values and beliefs, including respect for family, self-sufficiency, and a commitment to community,” says Amanda. “I think this close bond served as a catalyst for our relationship, which continued to grow throughout our time at Johns Hopkins.” The couple got married at the beginning of their fourth year of medical school.
Amanda’s interests include patient safety and operating room efficiency, while Karan has a desire to pursue basic science research in addition to caring for pediatric patients. During medical school, Karan volunteered with an organization called Students Stopping Violence, which focuses on empowering at-risk kids. “That work, combined with my experience during my clerkships, made me want to pursue a career in pediatrics,” he says.
“We are very excited to find out where we’ll be heading in a few months. It’s such a big moment in our careers and our future lives together,” says Amanda.
“It’s also a bittersweet moment because we have loved the past four years at Hopkins. It’s played such an instrumental role in the development of our relationship and careers,” Karan says. “We have made lifelong friends here, and while we are nostalgic about closing this chapter of our lives, we’re really looking forward to the new adventures ahead.”
Graduating student Cathy Handy, who took a year off between her 3rd and 4th years of medical school to obtain a master’s in public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has applied to several internal medicine residency programs.
“I’m interested in the public policy aspects of health care and I also have a clinical interest in medical oncology, which I may pursue during fellowship, after residency,” says Handy, who is from New York.
Handy says she’s anxious to find out where she’s matched, although she won’t be joining her fellow students in the Armstrong building for the event. She’s in the middle of a month-long rotation at the largest hospital in Europe, Austrian General Hospital, to learn about the health care system in Europe. Students who do not attend the Match Day event can find out where they’ve matched by logging on to a website at 1 p.m. on March 16.
“This is a very exciting time. I see residents walking around in long white lab coats and realize that in a few months, that will actually be me,” Handy says.