Striking a match: Keck students’ residency positions revealed
Keck School of Medicine seniors in this year’s Match Day, held March 20, like Southern California so much they do not want to leave.
Match Day is the national event in which graduating medical students find out where they will spend their next three or more years in training. For most of the 168 Keck School seniors heading off to a residency, those next years will look familiar. Seven of every 10 seniors will stay in Southern California, and three of every ten will not move at all: They will stay at LAC+USC Medical Center.
“That is an unprecedented high for us—30 percent of you will be doing your training across the street at County. You like us. You really like us,” Peter Katsufrakis, associate dean of student affairs, told students with a chuckle at their annual Match Day breakfast.
The National Residency Matching Program—the primary system that matches the desires of applicants with the preferences of residency programs at United States teaching hospitals—had a record high number of residency positions offered in this year’s match. At the same time, a record high number of applicants were matched to residency positions.
At 10 a.m. Pacific time on that much-anticipated Thursday morning, nearly 24,000 applicants around the world in the matching program tore open envelopes that held their fate.
Most at the Keck School liked what they saw on those white sheets of paper.
“I’m staying here! I’m not going to be in Omaha!” screamed Tamara Alexandrov, jumping jubilantly and hugging classmates. Alexandrov will train in orthopaedic surgery at LAC+USC for all of her residency.
Alexandrov symbolizes her classmates in more ways than just geographic choice: She opted for a residency position outside primary care.
About 43 percent of Keck School seniors (73) in the matching program chose positions in primary care, which encompasses family practice, internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. That is down significantly from the 52 percent of Keck School seniors who chose primary care positions in 2002.
Part of the drop in primary care matches came from a decline in students opting for family medicine. Keck School matches to family medicine dropped from 15 in 2002 to seven this year.
This drop paralleled seniors’ choices nationwide. In the entire matching program, family practice experienced 115 fewer matches than in 2002, with about 76 percent of positions filled. Seniors from the U.S. filled only 42 percent of the family practice positions offered, down from about 47 percent in 2002. International students filled the remainder.
More than 95 percent of internal medicine positions were filled, up from 2002, but the number of U.S. seniors taking those positions declined from nearly 59 percent in 2002 to more than 55 percent this year.
Pediatrics, meanwhile, continues to grow in popularity. Nearly 94 percent of those positions were filled this year.
Besides pediatrics, other specialties gaining favor across the nation included the following:
o surgery, in which 99 percent of positions were filled;
o anesthesiology, in which about 96 percent of positions were filled;
o pathology, in which about 90 percent of positions were filled; and
o diagnostic radiology, in which nearly 98 percent of first-year positions and nearly 100 percent of second-year positions were filled.
Diagnostic radiology’s overwhelming popularity, moreover, accounted for the increased number of Keck School students who initially went unmatched in this year’s residency match—about 8 percent of seniors, compared to 7 percent in 2002.
On March 17, three Keck School seniors found they had gone unmatched for both years of their residency and 11 went unmatched for one of their two years. By March 18, all had been matched with positions.
“All but one unmatched student pursued highly competitive specialties—dermatology, urology and anesthesiology, for example—with the greatest concentration in radiology,” Katsufrakis said.
As a whole, Katsufrakis said, Keck School students performed well, with numerous students matching with prestigious post-graduate programs across the country at institutions including UC San Francisco, Stanford University, Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Harvard University) and Yale-New Haven Hospital (Yale University).
Within the entire residency matching program, 23,965 applicants participated, 500 more than in 2002. Of these applicants, 14,332 were U.S. medical school seniors. International students accounted for much of the applicant increase.
The match rate for all 2003 applicants was nearly 79 percent. Although 17 fewer residency programs participated in this year’s match, the number of offered positions increased by 450, including an increase of more than 300 available first-year positions.