Match Day unites Yale grads and residencies

This year, more Yale School of Medicine graduates will stay in New Haven for their training residencies than ever before.

Thirty of the school’s 94 graduates learned this past Thursday that they will be medical residents in Connecticut hospitals, with at least 25 working at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The students were placed by the National Resident Matching Program, which compares ranking lists made by students and hospitals across the country and assigns matches with a computer algorithm.

Students opened envelopes containing their matches at a Match Day celebration in the Harkness Ballroom March 17. Administrators and students at the event said the mood was festive, as most students were matched to their top choices.

School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said statistics specifying how many students were matched with their first choice are no longer published, because of the pressure placed on schools to improve their standing by asking students to lower their expectations when ranking programs.

Alpern said none of this year’s students participated in the “Scramble,” a time period when unmatched applicants contact unfilled programs to possibly secure a position before Match Day.

“The match was a spectacular success, and our students were matched to many of the best programs in the country,” Alpern said. “The sense I’ve gotten from speaking to many people is that most got their first or second choice.”

More than 75 percent of U.S. medical schools’ graduating classes were matched with their first or second choice, and 14,700 participated in the match nationally, the highest number in 20 years, according to the NRMP.

Dr. Nancy Angoff, associate dean for student affairs, said while almost every student was matched to a residency program, a few have chosen to pursue business or research instead.

She said most students who will train at Yale-New Haven listed the hospital as their first or second choice.

“Generally, they’ve said their educational experiences here have been really positive — -they’ve seen that many departments here are very strong, and they are already familiar with the city and people.” Angoff said. “Also, I’ve noticed that almost every single one of the students staying in New Haven are in a committed relationship, which I think helps with that sense of support.”

Angoff said this year’s graduates tended to chose residencies in generalist fields, despite a national trend towards greater residency specification. Fewer Yale medical students than in past years are going into surgical subspecialties like urology, which only one student chose, while 43 students chose internal medicine, primary care or pediatrics.

“This doesn’t mean that students will end up practicing in generalist fields,” Angoff said. “They may specialize further on down the road.”

Suzanne Baron MED ’05, who was matched with her first choice internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, said students sometimes choose to pursue a generalist residency so they can keep options open for specialization later in their careers.

“People may prefer certain programs for many different reasons, including family, location, or a particular program’s qualities,” she said. “My family is from Boston, so I’m really happy that I’ll be near home.”

As for the notoriously hard work and long hours required of hospital residents, Baron said she is nervous but excited. She said she is grateful for the changes made about two years ago requiring accredited residency programs to lower the maximum work week to 80 hours and single shifts to 24 hours.

Angoff said about 10 Yale students chose to enter in the “couples match,” in which students link their ranking lists to a partner’s in order to stay geographically close during all or part of their residencies.

Brett King MED ’05, who couples matched with his girlfriend Ariel Frey MED ’05, said the couples match forces a difficult compromise between professional aspirations and personal or family priorities.

“It’s difficult to think, ‘I may not be at my first choice residency because of this other person,’” King said. “Similarly, it’s horrible to think, ‘My partner may not be at their first choice program because of me.’”

King was matched with an internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Frey will be an internal medicine and pediatrics resident at Harvard’s combined program. The students were matched with their first choice, and both said they were happy with the outcome.

Dr. Rosemarie Fisher, graduate medical education director at Yale-New Haven Medical Center, said Yale-New Haven Hospital will accept 186 residents this year, and almost half were matched with internal medicine programs.

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