Philanthropists Clyde and Sandra Strickland are pictured at the Strickland Family Medicine Center with Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, a GA-PCOM alum who matched two years ago.
Match Day is an annual rite of passage for medical students, a day when they find out at which United States residency program they will train for the next three to seven years. “Daunting to any fourth year medical student,” said Barbara Joy Jones, DO ’14 who matched two years ago.
DOs and MDs must complete these graduate medical education (GME) programs or “residencies” in order to become licensed physicians. It’s during their fourth and final year of medical school (whether seeking a DO or MD degree) when students choose specialties and begin applying to residency programs throughout the country—that’s where the Match comes in. Likewise, fourth-year pharmacy students have the option to continue their training by matching to a residency program.
Currently, there are two Match systems for physicians: the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) National Matching Service and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The AOA National Matching Service provides a mechanism for matching the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors, but only for osteopathic candidates. Similarly, the NRMP matches the preferences of applicants to the preferences of program directors, but both osteopathic (DO) and allopathic (MD) candidates can apply to programs represented by the NRMP.
Among students at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is the only osteopathic medical school in Georgia, some candidates choose to use the AOA National Matching Service, others choose to use the allopathic matching program (the NRMP), and still others work with both services to try to match with their ideal program. “I myself had questions about the Match—where would I go, would I even match at all, would I like it there ... Should I enter the DO Match, MD Match or both? This takes strategy,” Dr. Jones, a GA-PCOM alum, explained.
The Match processes go like this: Students apply to the programs they’re interested in, and program leaders and current residents interview candidates. Later, applicants rank preferred programs and program directors rank candidates and indicate the number of program spots available. “I only ranked programs that I would truly be happy at,” Dr. Jones said, “I decided on my number one choice because it was a place that comprised all I was looking for—a big hospital with diverse pathology, amazing location, fantastic faculty, a chance to set the foundation and be a trail blazer, and it was a dually-accredited program in which I could take DO and MD boards and not be denied practicing medicine anyplace in the USA.”
The numbers go into a computer system that matches students to residencies based off rankings and available spots—it is a double-blinded process, meaning that neither the programs nor the medical students know their match until they are revealed on Match Day.
Fourth-year pharmacy students go through a matching process—the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Resident Matching Program, which includes both postgraduate year one (PGY1) and postgraduate year two (PGY2) pharmacy residencies—though their decision to pursue a residency usually depends on whether they seek a clinical or retail-based pharmaceutical path.
Katie Bozman (pictured left), PharmD ’15 and alum of the Suwanee campus’ School of Pharmacy, matched just last year with a PGY1 pharmacy residency at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Planning to work with children, she knew she wanted to participate in a pediatric hospital residency.
“I wasn’t quite sure how to rank going into the Match, but I felt connected to Children’s Healthcare. You can tell pretty quickly if a place is going to fit,” Dr. Bozman said and added, “Interviewing was very eye-opening and it changed how I felt about what I wanted in a residency program.”
Currently helping run the pharmacy portion of the pediatric heart failure clinic and the teen heart transplant clinic, Dr. Bozman helps educate young patients and their families on their medication regimens, among other duties. Her experiences with the residency so far have challenged her and showed her there are many areas of pharmacy where she can find success, she said.
This year, the AOA National Matching Service results will be released February 8 while the NRMP and the ASHP Matching Program results come out March 18. However, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) plans to combine the two medical Match processes, resulting in a single accreditation system for graduate medical education by 2020.
But what of those who do not get a match? With the AOA National Matching Service, participants will find out whether or not and where they’ve matched on February 8. During the remainder of the week known as the “scramble,” unmatched applicants are made aware of open positions and vice versa, so participants may reach out to schedule new interviews and make a match. With the NRMP program, applicants find out whether they’ve matched four days before Match Day. If there’s not a match, these students may participate in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) to work to obtain an unfilled residency position. SOAP participants apply to open residencies, express their preferences, and—after program directors create a preference list of these applicants—are offered positions in a series of rounds based on new rankings. They have until 5 p.m. on the day before Match Day to make a match.
“As far as interviews go—take a deep breath, keep a smile on your face and remember they are as excited to meet you as you are to meet them, and you’ve already made it so far,” Dr. Bozman advises to future match candidates, “As far as waiting for Match day—it will come, it seems like the longest two weeks of your life, but try not to obsess because it will happen, it just takes time. It’s a great time to focus on your current rotation, and no matter what happens, you will have opportunities.”
Dr. Jones remembers tossing and turning the night before Match Day, and then at 9:12 a.m. on Match Day, it was confirmed that she matched with her first choice of programs, Gwinnett Medical Center's Family Medicine Residency: “So of course the next step is to get on Facebook to share the news, as well as read all my colleagues' statuses as their emails came in. What a day of excitement, relief, happiness, and anticipation for the journey ahead.
Match Day by Barbara Joy Jones
"Match Day" the word is daunting to any 4th medical school student. It's one day,
one decision that dictates where you will be for the next 3+ years. I myself had questions
about match-- where would I go, would I even match at all, would I like it there?
Being a DO medical student there was even MORE to think about. Should I enter DO match,
MD match or both. This takes strategy!
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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