‘I was ecstatic’: fourth-year UND medical students respond to their residency match results
“When I opened my Match Day email, I was ecstatic to see that I get to stay in Minot,” beamed Belcourt, N.D., native Emily Falcon. “I am able to stay in North Dakota and finish my residency close to home which is important to me. And I feel more than prepared to start residency in July which can be attributed to the training I received from UND.”
Falcon is just one of the 65 fourth-year medical students at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) who on Friday, March 18, 2022, participated in the nationwide medical student “Match Day.” On this day, graduating students learn where they will complete their residency, a period of advanced intensive training in their chosen specialty, before embarking on independent practice as a physician.
At noon (EST) last Friday, such residency matches were given out to a total of 39,205 medical students in the United States—the largest Match Day on record—by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Depending on the medical specialty, medical school graduates complete anywhere from three to seven years of residency training after medical school.
UND students are no exception.
“I am very excited to let you know that I have successfully matched at my first choice at Mercy Health Family Medicine Residency in Janesville,” said Wisconsin-native Cole Sogge. “As training future rural family medicine physicians is one of the goals of the UND SMHS, I have received above and beyond the necessary training and experience to feel ready for the next stage of my education. I am very confident in my skills heading into residency because of the time and commitment of my preclinical educators and community faculty members.”
In total, 41.5 percent of the SMHS Class of 2022 matched into primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, and pediatrics. A full 17 percent (11 of 65) of the cohort are set to enter family medicine—twice the national average of students matching into family medicine.
“It’s important to note that almost half of the 11 senior medical students at UND who matched into a family medicine residency this year are going to an in-state residency,” noted SMHS Dean Dr. Joshua Wynne in his congratulatory message to students. “So, we’ll have students joining all four in-state family medicine programs in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Minot.”
This matters, said Dr. Wynne, not only because many such residents end up practicing at or close to hospitals and clinics where they complete their residencies, but because in-state residencies help bring physicians to North Dakota from out of state. As such, more North Dakota residency matches likely means more physicians staying in North Dakota for practice.
Other specialties chosen by this year’s class include anesthesiology, diagnostic radiology, neurology, pathology, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, psychiatry, and surgery (cardiothoracic, orthopedic, and general).
This year’s UND cohort will see SMHS graduates entering not only the several residency programs in North Dakota but those around the country, including Duke University Medical Center, the University of California – San Francisco, the Mayo Clinics in Rochester, Minn., and Jacksonville, Fla., the University of Texas, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Beth Israel) in New York.
“I was so surprised!” said Williston, N.D., native Sarah Pippin. “Children’s Mercy Hospital (in Kansas City, Mo.) is an amazing program and was my first choice. So when I opened my letter, I was thrilled. I’m feeling ready for residency and am excited for this next step in my training.”
Also of note is the fact that eight of UND’s 65 matches (12.3%) were in psychiatry, a figure nearly double the national average of medical school graduates entering that specialization. This is significant in so far as not only North Dakota but the nation continues to experience a shortage of mental health providers even as diagnoses for conditions like anxiety and depression continue to increase.
“I’m blessed to say I matched psychiatry at my top choice, the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City,” added Abby Jessell. “I’m originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and came to UND for medical school through the Indians Into Medicine (INMED) Program. I’m super excited for residency and nervous as well with a big learning curve ahead of me.”
Both Jessell and Falcon join the more than 250 American Indian/Alaska Native physicians that have come out of UND’s INMED Program since its founding in 1973. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the SMHS ranks in the 100th percentile—higher than any other school in the database—for the fraction of its graduating medical student class to identify as American Indian.
“I am very happy for our graduating students,” said Jim Porter, Ph.D., associate dean for Student Affairs & Admissions at the SMHS. “This class has matched well, and the cohort should feel gratified that their hard work paid off.”
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. The NRMP 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.
Results of the Match are closely watched because they can predict future changes in the physician workforce. Of the more than 39,000 slots filled this year, said the NRMP, 36,277 were first-year (PGY-1) positions, which is also the largest first-year match on record and represents a 3.1 percentage point increase over last year. The growth in PGY-1 positions was supported in part by a 177-slot increase in the number of programs offering PGY-1 positions in the Match. The growth in positions was supported by continued growth in the number of Match-participating programs.
“Cardiothoracic surgery is a really competitive specialty with only 47 spots offered in the country each year, so I was ecstatic to receive a position in that field,” smiled Bismarck, N.D., native Anne Sandstrom, who is on her way to Texas. “They say there’s no real way to prepare for our ‘intern’ years, so I am trying to enjoy these months leading up to my residency to have full energy and hit the ground running in July.”
“Our time in medical school is ending, and although there are weeks that I wouldn’t want to relive—like exam week—there are aspects that I will miss: the support, the community, and most importantly my family in North Dakota,” admitted Rugby, N.D., native RaMae Harpestad, who is on her way to California. “Reflecting on my experience at UND SMHS, I feel grateful to have been selected to enter medical school, and to be able to continue my journey to becoming a physician.”
The full Match Day 2022 list can be read at: med.und.edu/student-affairs-admissions/match-day.html.