For four years, medical students in the University of Arizona College of Medicine Class of 2011 have been anticipating Match Day, the annual event culminating the complex process that matches the nation's graduating medical students with residency programs.
National Residency Matching Program results are released nationwide at ceremonies coordinated to occur on the same date at the same time at hundreds of medical colleges throughout the nation.
This year on Thursday, March 17, the students received traditional Match Day sealed envelopes containing letters showing where they will spend the next several years doing their residency training, in programs varying in length from three years for general medicine/family practice specialties to eight years for the most specialized of surgeons.
This was the first Match Day for the UA College of Medicine–Phoenix. The inaugural class of 24 medical students received their match envelopes at a ceremony held in the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium on the downtown Phoenix campus.
As the students waited restlessly, their match envelopes dangled from above in a "cloud sculpture" of envelopes, surrounded by a red ribbon in the middle of the auditorium. At 10 a.m., Dean Dr. Stuart D. Flynn cut the ribbon, allowing the class to find their match. Stepping to the podium onstage, each student announced their location and placed a pin to mark it on a map of the U.S.
The UA College of Medicine in Tucson held its 30th Match Day ceremony in DuVal Auditorium at University Medical Center, the college's teaching hospital in Tucson.
Medical students, their parents, siblings, spouses and children – many dressed in keeping with the event's theme, "The Wonderful World of Match" – gathered for the event, which featured a Disneyesque skit about the college's departments written and performed by the medical students.
After the skit, students' names were called randomly to receive their match envelope, which he or she opened to loud cheers from fellow students and before hundreds of family and friends.
Both events were broadcast live and are archived on the Internet.
The UA College of Medicine Class of 2011 includes a total of 129 graduates – 78 women and 51 men, 13 Hispanic students and one Native American student.
The 105 graduates at the UA College of Medicine in Tucson include 62 women and 43 men; the 24 graduates at the UA College of Medicine–Phoenix include 16 women and eight men.
Of the students attending the UA College of Medicine in Tucson, 28 did their third- and fourth-year rotations in the Phoenix area.
Forty-three percent of the 129 graduates will remain in Arizona for their residencies, and 56 will go into primary care: 20 in family medicine, 13 in internal medicine and 23 in pediatrics. Of the 24 Phoenix program graduates, 14 will begin residencies in Arizona (12 will remain in Phoenix while two will train at UA-affiliated hospitals in Tucson), and 13 will train in primary care.
Twenty-four of the 129 graduates will begin their residencies in Tucson, where the UA College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Program oversees more than 40 accredited residency programs in all major specialties and subspecialties and trains more than 500 residents and fellows at the UA College of Medicine's primary teaching hospital, University Medical Center, and 14 other major participating institutions in Tucson and Phoenix.
Four of those 24 graduates were accepted into two of the UA/UPHK Graduate Medical Education Consortium's six new residency programs: three in family medicine and one in psychiatry. (Accreditation has been received for medicine and psychiatry, which began in July 2008; ophthalmology and neurology, which began July 2009; and emergency medicine and family medicine, which began July 2010.)
The programs are based primarily at University Physicians Hospital with rotations throughout the state, including the Southern Arizona Veteran Affairs Health Care System and the Indian Health Service.
Nationally, fewer than 39 percent of physicians practice in the state where they went to medical school, while about half of Arizona medical school graduates practice in-state, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
More than 30,000 medical students nationwide were eligible to match on Thursday for 23,421 training positions.