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Match Day 2024 – We Can Do More to Address the Physician Shortage

Earlier this month college students and sports fans eagerly awaited the release of the NCAA basketball tournament brackets, wondering whether their school made the cut, assessing their regional strength, and betting on this year’s Cinderella.

As much fun as March Madness is, another announcement last weekend is far more important for medical school students: residency match day. That’s right, every March, the National Residency Match Program (NRMP), colloquially called “The Match,” tells fourth-year medical students and doctors from around the world what specialty they’ve been selected to learn and where they’ll be learning it.

Residency is a multi-year practical training program for newly graduated doctors. During this program, aspiring doctors gain practice proficiency under the tutelage of practicing medical professionals.

But unlike most professions, only a handful of doctors get to decide their specialty and where they’ll train. Instead, fourth-year medical students apply to various programs, interview with select schools, and rank out their preference of institutions and specialty to the NRMP—residency programs likewise submit their preferences for residents. After years of training, doctors’ fates come to rest with a computer algorithm that spits out their “match.”

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