with matches: Medical
students learn their fates
School of Medicine seniors in this year’s Match Day–held March
21–bucked the nationwide trend favoring medical specialties over
primary care residencies.
Match Day is the national event in which graduating medical students
find out where they will spend their next two years in training.
At 10 a.m., more than 23,000 applicants across the country in
the National Resident Matching Program tore open envelopes that
held their fate.
At the Keck School, 79 seniors (52 percent) chose primary care
positions, just as their USC counterparts did in 2001, said Peter
Katsufrakis, associate dean of student affairs. These include
family practice, internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, pediatrics
and obstetrics/gynecology. Family practice, in particular, reversed
its decline in popularity, with 15 seniors entering the field
this year compared to 10 in 2001.
Nationwide, however, 373 fewer US medical school seniors filled
these generalist positions than they did last year. International
medical graduates made up part of the difference by accepting
116 of the primary care spots.
Still, the number of Keck School seniors entering primary care
is down from a few years ago. More than 90 seniors chose such
residencies in 1999 and 2000.
saw some trends this year, with surgical subspecialties and other
specialties becoming particularly competitive,” Katsufrakis said.
Every dermatology position in the match was filled, for example,
with one going to a Keck School senior.
The number of Keck School seniors entering surgical subspecialties
(such as neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology
and urology) increased from 17 in 2001 to 22 this year.
The demand for radiology, however, dropped. Three students matched
this year, down from nine in 2001 and five in 2000.
Katsufrakis said that 151 Keck School students are expected to
begin first-year residencies in July. Four other students will
pursue research or other plans instead, including one student
who will attend law school.
As of March 18, six Keck School seniors had gone unmatched for
both years of their residency and five went unmatched for one
of their two years. By March 20, all eight who were willing to
accept other empty positions not on their wish lists were matched
as part of what is called “the scramble,” while three others chose
to pursue other activities.
One of the initially unmatched students was able to get one of
only four unfilled orthopedics positions out of a total of 569
across the nation, Katsufrakis said.
Many students stayed in the West.
classes before you, you love California,” Katsufrakis told students,
who gathered with faculty members for the traditional match day
breakfast. “About 87 percent of you stayed in California, 66 percent
in Southern California. And 23 percent will be at County [LAC+USC
In previous years, the national matching program reported figures
for the proportion of students who were matched with their first-,
second- or third-choice residencies. However, the national program
has stopped reporting this information, Katsufrakis said.
Many seniors celebrated, screamed and shrieked when they got their
first-choice residency program, while others read their match
day letters in stunned silence. #
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