Tufts University

Match Makers

Match DayTufts medical students find out where they will spend their residencies in the annual ritual of "Match Day."

The champagne flutes were filled and the envelopes were sealed. On the fourth floor of the Sackler Center at Tufts University School of Medicine on March 19, 164 medical students nervously milled around the newly renovated library café waiting to learn in which directions their lives were headed.

It was a scene played out at medical schools across the country on "Match Day," when nearly 30,000 medical students found out where they would spend the next three to seven years in residency. After an application and interview process, students are matched to hospitals using a computer algorithm.

Some brought their families or friends; others had fiancés or spouses on speed dial. Couples hoped to get matched to the same hospital or city, while some students carried babies who will likely attend preschool where their parent winds up.

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As the envelopes were torn open, shrieks and shouts filled the air. Students exchanged high-fives and hugs, as others cried tears of joy. The lines were jammed with calls and text messages spreading the students' news around the country and the world.

Forty-five percent of the Tufts graduates will be headed into primary care specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics and family practice, with 10 percent pursuing residencies in emergency medicine. Thirty-five percent of students were matched to hospitals in Massachusetts, with 16 percent headed to California and 13 percent going to New York.

According to the National Resident Matching Program, this was the largest match in history, with 29,890 applicants—1,153 more than last year—for 22,427 first-year residency positions. Medical school seniors comprised 15,638 of the applicants. More than 95 percent of the first-year positions were filled during this match.

While Match Day takes place every year, each time it is a unique moment for the students who experience it. In an instant, the path to their future becomes clearer. And the people who brought them to that point—their classmates, faculty and administrators—are there to share in the revelation.

Story written by Georgiana Cohen, Office of Web Communications. Video production by William O'Brien, Educational Media Center.

Photos by Alonso Nichols, University Photography.

This story originally ran on Apr. 6, 2009.