March 21, 2008 | The 135 College of Medicine seniors at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) saw their immediate futures decided with the rip of an envelope this week.
The annual Match Day ceremony, celebrated by senior medical students nationwide, brought the UAMS College of Medicine class of 2008 together March 20 at West End Smokehouse & Tavern in Little Rock to find out where they would be serving their residencies.
A packed house of family and friends watched as students were handed an envelope and one-by-one took a turn at the microphone to announce their next destination.
For med student Erin Vaughn, the spirit of the event was palpable.
“You go through the entire process of making sure you’ve done everything you can do to get to where you want to go, and then it all comes down to this moment,” Vaughn said. “I felt good about my first choice but you just never know.”
Vaughn’s envelope revealed a combination medicine-pediatrics residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn., the four-year program she had hoped for.
“Unbelievable,” Vaughn said. “It still feels like this isn’t really happening. It feels like everything I’ve been through has paid off in a really big way.”
As students’ names were called, they made their way to a stage and were handed individual envelopes. Some students ripped them open right away, while some waited for their big moment on stage in front of the microphone.
And while most students received matches with their first choice, some did not.
“Of course there’s some disappointment because you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, but it’s still very exciting to be moving on to the next phase of our life,” said Cameron Best, who was assigned to a preliminary surgery residency at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. “Everything happens for a reason, and I’m very excited about going to Colorado.”
Results of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) are released simultaneously to more than 20,000 medical school students nationwide. A computerized system controls the selection process and matches fourth-year students with residency openings based on student preference and availability.
Richard P. Wheeler, M.D., executive associate dean for academic affairs at UAMS, said 77 seniors were appointed to residencies in Arkansas, while there were 58 out-of-state residencies spread across 23 states, including one in Hawaii.
Wheeler noted that 50 percent of UAMS seniors received residencies in a primary care specialty, including 19 in family medicine, 19 in internal medicine, 16 in pediatrics and seven in obstetrics and gynecology.
Nationally, there were 22,240 residencies to be filled through the NRMP match. Vying for those positions were 28,737 students, leaving 7,797 seniors who didn’t obtain a match. They will have the opportunity to find the location of remaining unfilled residency slots and contact those programs.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,538 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,600 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit www.uams.edu.