/////Senior Medical Students Celebrated Their Residency Matches at Annual ‘Match Day’ Ceremony
Senior Medical Students Celebrated Their Residency Matches at Annual ‘Match Day’ Ceremony 2018-01-05T09:11:34+00:00

MARCH 19, 2004 | Fourth-year medical students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) ripped open envelopes yesterday containing crucial information that will influence their future – information about where they will spend the next few years of their lives.

College of Medicine seniors found out at exactly 11 a.m. where they will receive their residency training at the annual “Match Day” ceremony held at Juanita’s Mexican Café in Little Rock. Match Day is a nationwide event in which all medical students from across the nation learn at the exact same time where they have been assigned to residencies.


Shouts of joy and sighs of relief were widespread as students announced their assignments on state in front of their classmates. Seventy-two seniors received appointments to Arkansas residency positions, while 59 seniors received out-of-state residencies in 23 states. Approximately 47 percent of the seniors received residencies in a primary care specialty (internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology).


A residency is the next step up the professional ladder for young physicians after graduation from medical school. The students will spend three to six years in specialized training, with the length of time varying according to each discipline. For example, family medicine requires three years of training while neurosurgery requires six.


Luke Theilken, 26, was ecstatic about his match to Massachusetts General Hospital, an affiliated institution of Harvard Medical School. “I’m totally excited because Harvard was my first choice of residency … I’m just in a daze right now,” he said, pausing to receive a congratulatory hug from a fellow classmate. “UAMS has given me the best education ever – it’s been phenomenal.” Theilken is originally from Little Rock and will study anesthesiology during his residency. 


One medical student didn’t receive his first choice of residency, but was thrilled nonetheless. Ken Poon, 26, said he believes his match to Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami, the primary teaching facility for the University of Miami School of Medicine, is exactly where he is supposed to be. “I prayed to God to lead me where I am supposed to be, so I trust that Miami is what he wants for me,” Poon said. “Plus, I secretly wanted to be near the beach anyway.” Poon grew up in Newport and will study medicine-pediatrics. 


Richard Wheeler, M.D., executive associate dean for student and academic affairs in the UAMS College of Medicine, presided over the ceremony and oversees the “match” process every year.


“With the possible exception of commencement, I think Match Day is the most exciting day of the year for seniors in medical school,” Wheeler said. “They find out for sure what specialty they are going to be entering, something that obviously affects them for the rest of their lives. It is just a great day, and the fact that it happens at exactly the same time all over the country for all medical students is pretty exciting.” 


Wheeler explained that the matches are created through a nationwide computerized process called the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). This program allows senior medical students nationwide to rank their preferences of residency locations confidentially at a uniform date. The NRMP then matches each student to the program ranked highest on his or her listing based on available vacancies.


From a national perspective, there were 21,192 positions to be filled this year through the NRMP match with a total of 25,246 applicants. Of those applicants, 14,609 were senior students from the United States. Of the U.S. seniors, 13,572 matched and 1,037 failed to match.  


UAMS is the state’s only academic medical center and is responsible for training more than 80 percent of the physicians in Arkansas as well as the majority of other medical professionals.