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OHSU's graduating medical students learn where they will begin the next stage of their careers

Imagine having no idea where your job will take you for the next three to six years. Sound exciting? It is for many Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine students as Match Day quickly approaches. On Thursday March 17, 107 fourth-year medical students will learn the location and hospital where they will conduct their post-medical school “residencies” upon graduating from OHSU in June.

Residency is the next phase of training for a graduated medical student. Upon completion of medical school, all new graduates pursue a residency in primary care or another specialty. The assignment of residencies is a long process that culminates in Match Day where students learn where their residencies will take place. Some students will train at OHSU. Others will head elsewhere.

Match Day doesn't just happen at OHSU. Students at medical schools across the country will also learn the location of their residency training this week.

Here's how the system works: Shortly in advance of Match Day, a computer in Washington, D.C., provides residency “match” information to medical schools across the country simultaneously. It's a system called the National Resident Matching Program (more info below.) Through the use of a computer-based algorithm, the program places applicants in residencies that will open up at hospitals across the country this summer. On Match Day itself, students are provided envelopes at 9:30 a.m. containing information about where they have been matched. Students can also look up their information online later in the day.

"Residency is the next stage of the educational continuum in a physician’s training. They will learn more about medicine and the specific specialty they have selected," said OHSU School of Medicine Dean Mark Richardson, M.D. "Some of our students will stay right here at OHSU. Others will travel to other locations in Oregon. Some may travel across the country. We are enormously proud of all of our graduates and of OHSU’s role in educating the next generation of physician leaders for Oregon."

One-third of all Oregon physicians completed all or part of their training at OHSU, and OHSU ranks among the highest in the nation for in-state retention of physicians. Historically, a high percentage of OHSU graduates have also selected primary care – pediatrics, internal medicine and family medicine – as their specialty.

Prior to Match Day, medical students have a lot of work to do. They must fill out applications and travel to medical centers for interviews. Each student then submits a ranked list of residency programs they prefer. Between 80 and 90 percent of OHSU’s students are typically matched with one of their top three choices for residency education and training. However, the computer’s decisions are final.

“We’ve all worked so hard to get to this day, and I am proud and privileged be part of this graduating class. When I look around at my peers, I know that the future of medicine is brighter because these men and women are entering this profession,” said Jessica Carlson, OHSU M.D. Class of 2011 President.

Some of OHSU's students who are taking part in Match Day have agreed to be profiled.

Below are short summaries for each student.

  • Jessica Carlson, a native Oregonian, is the class president of the graduating M.D. class and held the Miss Oregon USA title in 2005. Jessica received her baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Portland State University and has volunteered for Cascade AIDS project for a number of years. She will pursue a medical career in surgery.
  • Gene Paek was born and raised in Portland, Ore., and discovered his desire to work in the medical field while serving in the military. During his time as a student, his wife, a full-time dental student at OHSU, gave birth to their first child. Gene hopes to remain in Portland to train as an anesthesiologist. He hopes to eventually specialize in critical care. If Gene does not match in Portland, he will be separated from his family for a brief period while his wife finishes dental school.
  • Rachel Seltzer will match into family medicine. During her third-year, Rachel was one of nine students to participate in the inaugural Rural Scholars Program, which allowed her to continue to explore life as a small-town health care provider. Through this experience, she worked with patients in Wheeler, Enterprise, John Day and Grants Pass. She has also pursued experiences in public health, health-care policy, and health-care systems development while a student at OHSU. She intends to continue serving in these capacities throughout her career.
  • Nicholas Westfall moved to Oregon as a young child and first encountered health care and OHSU through a health careers opportunity program. "Medicine was a way for me to combine my two passions - science and social work," said Nicholas. Nicholas is the recipient of the prestigious DuBois Scholarship which is awarded once every four years to a student who places in the top 10 percent of the class academic ranking and who demonstrates exemplary professionalism. Nick has selected urology for his area of practice.

More information about NRMP

  • The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is a private, not-for-profit organization established in 1952 to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants to U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors.
  • Each year about 16,000 U.S. allopathic medical school seniors and 15,000 graduates of osteopathic, Canadian or foreign medical schools compete for about 24,000 residency positions.
  • The American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Hospital Association and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies sponsor the NRMP.
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