Friday, March 19, 2021, was the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) “Match Day.” Match Day for graduating medical students is one of the most important milestones of their young careers. Each year on this day, medical school seniors across the country find out where they will complete their residency, a period of advanced intensive training in their chosen medical specialty, before embarking on independent practice as a physician. Depending on the medical specialty, medical school graduates complete anywhere from three to seven years of residency training after medical school.
Although the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) typically holds Match Day events on all four SMHS campuses in North Dakota, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made celebrations more individual.
This year, the 75 members of the Doctor of Medicine Class of 2021 at the UND SMHS received their match notice via email from the NRMP to share with immediate friends and family.
“I matched into the Altru Health System Family Medicine Residency right here in Grand Forks!” beamed West Fargo, N.D., native Sarah Schaeffer. “Prior to application season, I debated between choosing a career in obstetrics and gynecology versus family medicine. I am excited about my match in family medicine, and especially at Altru’s program. They have a strong curriculum and great residents and faculty. I have a passion for primary care, as well as women’s health, and this specialty provides the perfect balance.”
For his part, Fargo-Moorhead product Michael Storandt will be heading south—just a bit.
“I matched at Mayo for internal medicine,” added the soon-to-be doctor Storandt, noting how his chosen specialty allows him to connect with a variety of patients face-to-face in a longitudinal way. “I’m very excited and thankful to have the opportunity to continue my training there. I’ll have the opportunity to really get to know the people I’m serving and form connections, and that has always been my favorite part about medicine.”
In total, 61 percent of the MD Class of 2021 matched into primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, and pediatrics. A full 17 percent (13 of 75) of the cohort are set to enter family medicine, a figure nearly twice the national average of students matching into family medicine.
Other specialties chosen by this year’s class include anesthesiology, radiology (diagnostic and interventional), neurology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and surgery (neurological, orthopedic, and general).
“I matched to a combined internal medicine and pediatrics program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center,” said Elko-New Market, Minn., native Audrey Lane. “I feel thrilled! I found out where I matched with my fiancé, parents, and younger sister. Initially it felt surreal and I found myself rechecking my email to make sure I’d read it correctly.”
“It’s hard to sum up all of my feelings and reactions to matching. Part of it is just surreal; it feels hard to believe that I am nearly done with four years of medical school, that I will have my MD in just a matter of months,” said Bismarck native Taylor Crothers, who is also headed to Altru’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Forks. “Another emotion is relief since the match process can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Knowing where my wife and I will be living for the next three years, and knowing that I have a position for training, is a major relief. Another emotion is just excitement. I could not be more excited to be joining the Altru Family Medicine Residency program.”
Match Day is the culmination of work conducted by the NRMP, a private, not-for-profit corporation founded in 1952 at the request of medical students to standardize the residency selection process and establish a uniform date of appointment to positions in graduate medical education (GME) training programs. It is governed by a board of directors that includes representatives from national medical and medical education organizations as well as medical students, resident physicians and GME program directors.
“I am excited to begin my journey as a physician at the Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls, and look forward to sharing this experience with my family,” said Eagle Butte, S.D., native Arna Mora of her match. “I chose family medicine for the opportunity to support and advocate for patients, and their families.”
Results of the Match are closely watched because they can predict future changes in the physician workforce. According to the NRMP, 38,106 total positions were offered via the Match this year, the most ever, and 35,194 post-graduate year one (PGY-1) positions were offered, an increase of 928 (2.7%) over 2020. The growth in positions was supported by continued growth in the number of Match-participating programs.
This year’s UND cohort will see UND SMHS graduates entering not only the several residency programs in North Dakota, but those at Boston University Medical Center, Yale University, the Mayo Clinics in Rochester, Minn., and Jacksonville, Fla., Baylor University in Texas, the University of Michigan, and universities in California.
“I am very happy for our fourth-year students,” said Jim Porter, Ph.D., associate dean for Student Affairs & Admissions at the SMHS. “This class has matched very well, and everyone should feel extremely satisfied that their hard work has paid off. As you go through the list you’ll notice that our students matched in some particularly competitive programs and specialties across the country, including many matches right here in North Dakota. We all should be exceedingly proud of their accomplishments.”
The full Match Day 2021 list can be read at: med.und.edu/student-affairs-admissions/match-day.html.