Match Day: A Love Connection

St. Patrick’s Day has become quite the celebration, a time when everyone seems to find some Irish heritage. But for fourth-year medical students across the country, it is a very special holiday. Friday, March 17th is Match Day!

For our readers who are not physicians, you may or may not have heard about Match Day. Perhaps you know a fourth-year medical student who is going on many interviews and has yet to get a job, despite your best wishes…Well, allow me to explain the Match.

The Match is mathematical algorithm created in the 60s by Drs. Gale and Shapley, used for proving “stable marriage” principles. Essentially it was a “love match” algorithm. Similar to the original work, the Match for residency makes a “love connection” for medical students wanting to complete their training at their favorite program.

In the fall of fourth year, students apply to residency programs in their designated specialty (and sometimes more than just one). For example, I am applying for an Emergency Medicine residency, because I want to become an Emergency Medicine physician. After reviewing hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications, programs then send out interviews to students. The real fun begins then, as students travel the country in hopes to find their “match.”

In February, students rank their favorite programs that they interviewed at, from number one to as many as they so choose to rank. Programs also submit a rank list of all interviewed students. Students are urged to rank their favorites in order and not guess how programs rank students. The Match is called an applicant-proposing algorithm because it gives preference to the applicant, not the program. As the algorithm goes down students’ lists, it “tentatively matches” a student to open program spots based on their list order and the programs’ list order of other students. Tentative matches change, but once all students (ideally) are matched, the process is complete. It sounds complicated, but I’ve been told it’s similar to Greek life.

On St. Paddy’s Day, medical students across the country will finally find out what their future holds, most commonly hidden inside an envelope. It’s a great celebration; students proudly get up on a stage and announce to their family and friends where they are headed. It’s a love connection!


Laura Simon

Laura Cook

I was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, but have lived in Greenville for the past 13 years. I graduated with a degree in Biochemistry in May 2013 at Virginia Tech, where I swam for the varsity team. My pursuit of a career in medicine began with my interest in biochemistry and physiology. I really enjoy reaching out to my community and interacting with people. I am excited to finish up my medical career at the USC School of Medicine Greenville.

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