March 18, 2016

Doctor destiny: U-M medical students learn where they’re headed next at Match Day

Annual tradition of residency matching brings suspense and surprise

Match Day

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Today at exactly noon, 161 University of Michigan medical students will find out their destinies.

Or rather, they’ll find out where they’ll go for their next round of training, after they graduate in two months.

As part of a massive national ritual called Match Day, they and their fellow near-doctors will learn which residency program they’ve “matched” to. That’s where they’ll spend the next three to seven years of their lives training to learn a particular specialty and prepare to practice on their own.

More than 500 friends, family and professors join the U-M Medical School students in celebrating their matches, in a gathering at U-M’s North Campus Research Complex.

Each graduating medical student around the country enters the matching process by ranking the locations where they’d most like to train for their chosen specialty.  The residency programs rank the students they’d most like to take. Then, an elaborate computer-based system puts it all together to make the best matches.

Learn more about the process here. 

U-M’s gathering gives some students the chance to open their envelopes on stage and share their moment of surprise with the entire class. All students can announce their destination from the stage, and place a pin on a map of the U.S. They also receive a gift from the U-M Medical Center Alumni Society, whose ranks they’ll join soon.

This year, the event happens in the same week that the U-M Medical School was ranked 11th among U.S. research-oriented medical schools and 4th for primary care schools by U.S. News & World Report.

According to the U.S. News results, U-M also ranks very high in the estimation of residency program directors — senior doctors at teaching hospitals nationwide who interview and select graduating medical students to enter their programs.

Here are some highlights of this year’s match:

  • 45 percent of U-M’s graduates will enter a primary care field, to serve a growing need for internists, pediatricians, family practitioners, obstetrician/ gynecologists and dual specialists in internal medicine and pediatrics. Some of these may choose to specialize within these fields later on.
  • About 28 percent will stay in the state of Michigan for residency, in hospitals in Ann Arbor, the metro Detroit area, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Those heading out of state are most likely to be going to California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Indiana.
  • 30 students this year will graduate with both a medical degree from U-M and an advanced degree in another field from a top-ranked graduate program at U-M or elsewhere, such as the Medical School’s biomedical Ph.D. program, Public Health, Clinical Research, Business or Public Policy, or completed a residency program in Maxillofacial Surgery. 
  • 18 percent of this year’s class matched to residency slots at the U-M Health System. They were selected from among thousands of applicants. Nearly 1,200 doctors-in-training in 105 residency and fellowship programs currently train at U-M’s hospitals and clinics. Those programs are highly regarded by doctors around the country, and by the doctors who completed them, according to results compiled by Doximity.
  • Over 98 percent of this year’s U-M students entering the national match process have matched to a residency spot in this intensely competitive environment, far above the national average. 

Read more about how Match Day and the residency matching process works on Michigan Health Lab

For more about Match Day this year and in past years at U-M, see