It’s hard to think of an event more dramatic than Match Day at LSU Health Shreveport. It’s a day that fourth year medical students have been working toward and thinking of at least since they began medical school.
First, the basics: After four years of medical school, students receive their MDs but still have to further their training in residency programs (like pediatrics or orthopedic surgery) before they can practice. Some students enter medical school knowing what specialty they want to pursue (many do change their minds), while others have no clue. By the end of their third year though, students are generally decided and are working on their residency applications. Students apply to programs through a centralized system (ERAS). They receive interview invitations from some programs and go on as many as they can or see fit (and yes, interview expenses comes of out the medical students’ pockets with a few exceptions). Students then create a rank list from the places they interviewed. Programs do the same, and NRMP runs the match. Then the waiting to find out the results at Match Day begins.
How the day works at LSU Health Shreveport: It is chaos. The normally vast and airy BRI Atrium fills up by 10:45 am. If you want a prime viewing spot, you can’t be shy about pushing your way through a crowd. If you look up, you’ll see faculty members, residents and younger medical students lining the balconies on the BRI’s upper levels. Medical school leadership make a few opening remarks about 5 minutes until 11 am—very much aware that students’ attention spans are short and that they are the only thing standing in between students’ results. Right at 11 am, one of the deans will draw an envelope from a brown paper bag and announce the first student to approach the microphone. He or she quickly tears open that envelope, announces the results and then pulls out the next name from the bag. Students say that not knowing when your name will be called adds to the anxiety levels. The whole process takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
Here are some fun facts about the day:
- Lloyd Shapley and Alvin Roth won a Nobel Prize in economics for their theoretical and practical work in matching theory. Shapley and his colleague, David Gale, developed the “stable marriage” algorithm in which men and women rank each other as potential mates and a series of offer rounds produces a best match. The Gale-Shapley algorithm is the basis of the matching algorithm used by the NRMP. Roth worked with NRMP to adapt it.
- There’s compensation for being last to know your results. As each student walks away from the microphone, he or she puts $10 in a pot. This continues until one student is left. He or she gets about $1,000 for having to wait the longest!
- Students already know they have matched—just not where. During Match Week, students receive an email that Monday (March 16) telling them that they have matched. So the ceremony is a fun and happy occasion with no chance of someone opening a blank envelope.
- Announcing results in front of the group is optional. There is a lot of tension and stress leading up to this day; however, since it’s a tradition, most if not all students choose to take part. If someone opts to receive their results in private, they will have to wait until noon CST to find out.
- Not all schools do it like this. Many have students open their envelopes all at the same time.
- For the first time, the event will be live streamed. If you can’t make it in person, go to our YouTube page at youtube.com/LSUHSCShreveport on March 20 at 10:55 am. Look for the live event to pop up on the center of the page.
- Share your photos. If you will be at the event, use the hashtag #LSUShvMatch. NRMP is also promoting #iMatched and #Match2015.
- More about the algorithm. Rank lists are due 23 days before Match Day. How long though does it take a computer to run the algorithm? 17 seconds, according to this blogger/medical student.
- Match Day for LSU Health Departments. Our residency programs have 125 spots in the Match.
Good luck students!!