Draft Day for doc­tors has med­i­cal school se­niors sweat­ing

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEAK AHEAD - —An­dis Robeznieks

The na­tion will get a good look this week at the fu­ture faces of medicine. Fri­day is Match Day, when med­i­cal school se­niors find out where they will be do­ing their res­i­dency train­ing.

Matches are de­ter­mined by rank­ing stu­dents’ choices of pro­grams and pro­grams’ choices of stu­dents. It’s the high-pres­sure equiv­a­lent of Draft Day in pro sports.

But the stu­dents find out sooner, on Mon­day, whether they matched at all. Res­i­dency pro­grams learn then how many of their po­si­tions were filled. On Wed­nes­day, un­matched grad­u­ates get of­fers for un­filled po­si­tions. They have two hours to say yes or no.

Last year, 528 se­niors did not ini­tially land a slot. Physi­cian or­ga­ni­za­tions and oth­ers have cited this as ev­i­dence that the U.S. faces a res­i­dency short­age and that Congress should boost grad­u­ate med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing. Mona Signer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Res­i­dent Match­ing Pro­gram, said most of those stu­dents even­tu­ally were placed. But many didn’t get the spe­cialty they wanted. “Ev­ery­one can’t be a der­ma­tol­o­gist or an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon,” she said. States also are com­pet­ing. Many doc­tors start prac­tice in the same ge­o­graph­i­cal area where they trained. Given the scram­ble for pri­mary-care physi­cians, Florida and other states have in­creased GME fund­ing to lure fu­ture doc­tors to their borders with more slots.

Last year, 18,156 U.S. med­i­cal school se­niors vied for 26,392 first-year po­si­tions, nearly half for pri­mary-care spe­cial­ties. While this year’s fig­ures aren’t avail­able yet, there typ­i­cally are up to 8,000 more po­si­tions than U.S. se­nior stu­dents. The ex­tra slots are filled by U.S. cit­i­zens and for­eign stu­dents at in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal schools.

Med­i­cal stu­dents ea­gerly await Match Day.

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