Like the Oscars, the sound of opening envelopes and shouts of joy could be heard in Tucson and Phoenix on March 16 as 149 students in the University of Arizona College of Medicine Class of 2012 learned where they will spend the next several years as resident-physicians – a major step in building their medical careers.
This year's "winner" was primary care, the most critical shortage the state faces: 69 graduates will pursue residencies in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. About half of Arizona medical school graduates practice in-state, while nationally, on average, only 39 percent of physicians practice in the state where they went to medical school, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
For four years, medical students anticipate Match Day, the annual event culminating the complex process that matches the nation's graduating medical students with residency programs. National Resident Matching Program results are released nationwide at ceremonies coordinated to occur on the same date at the same time at hundreds of medical colleges throughout the nation.
This year, students received traditional Match Day sealed envelopes containing letters showing where they will go for their residency training, in programs varying in length from three years for general medicine/family practice specialties to eight years for the most specialized of surgeons. Nationwide, there were 38,377 medical students eligible to match for a total of 26,772 training positions, according to the NRMP.
At the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, a "mini-airport" was created in the middle of Virginia G. Piper Auditorium on the downtown Phoenix campus for its second Match Day ceremony. Signs dangled over 43 suitcases, each with a match envelope attached, arranged like a baggage claim area and cordoned off with a red ribbon.
At 10 a.m., Dr. Dean Stuart D. Flynn cut the ribbon and the restlessly waiting medical students dashed to find the suitcase with his or her envelope. Stepping to the podium onstage, each student announced his or her location and placed a pin to mark it on a map of the U.S. Video of the event is archived on the Internet.
The UA College of Medicine-Tucson held its 31st Match Day ceremony in DuVal Auditorium at The University of Arizona Medical Center-University Campus, the college's teaching hospital in Tucson.
An overflow crowd of medical students, their parents, siblings, spouses and children – many dressed in keeping with the event's theme, "Game Night: Match 2012" – gathered for the event, which kicked off with a board-game themed skit about the college's departments written and performed by the medical students.
After the skit, students' names were called randomly to receive their match envelope, which they opened to loud cheers from fellow students and family members. Video of the event is archived on the Internet.
The UA College of Medicine Class of 2012 includes a total of 149 students on the Tucson and Phoenix campuses who will graduate in May – 85 women, 64 men, 14 Hispanic students and one Native American student.
The UA College of Medicine-Phoenix's second class of 43 graduates includes 23 women and 20 men. Twenty-five will begin residencies in Arizona. Twenty-three will remain in Phoenix; two will train in Tucson, one in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Program and one in family medicine at the UA College of Medicine at South Campus (formerly the UA/UPHK Graduate Medical Education Consortium).
Twenty-one will train in primary care: family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. A quarter of the class is pursuing pediatrics, including six who will train at Phoenix Children's Hospital, the college's primary pediatric affiliate and one of the most respected children's facilities in the nation. Two graduates will spend one year training in Arizona before embarking on specialty training.
The UA College of Medicine-Tucson class of 106 graduates includes 63 women and 43 men. Of the students attending the UA College of Medicine-Tucson, 27 did their third and fourth-year rotations in the Phoenix area. Thirty-three of the 106 graduates will begin residencies in Arizona and two will spend a preliminary year training elsewhere before returning to Arizona to complete their residencies. Forty-eight graduates will go into primary care.
Doctor of Medicine degrees will be conferred at the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix convocation ceremony on May 9 at 3:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St., Phoenix, and at the UA College of Medicine-Tucson convocation ceremony on May 11 from 3:30-6 p.m. in Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., UA Main Campus.