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Vital Signs

Match Day brings another sort of March madness

By Jennifer Durgin

For fourth-year medical students, March madness has nothing to do with basketball. Instead, their frenzy centers on a day in March when all soon-to-be-doctors find out where they'll continue their training after they graduate.

Lively: Match Day, which fell this year on March 15, is a lively, informal ceremony at DMS—and 2007 was no exception. All the students gather at noon and, one by one, come up to receive their residency assignments in sealed envelopes. Some students tear open the envelope and read their letter before they even make it back to their seat, while others wait for a more private moment to peek at what their future holds. Laughter, gasps, shrieks of joy, and misty eyes always mark the occasion.

"The results were superb," Dr. David Nierenberg, senior associate dean for medical education, wrote to the DMS community shortly after the event, "as we are now in the habit of seeing virtually every March."

Of the 54 students slated to graduate this year, 47 participated in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP); 2 chose military residencies; and 5 are deferring residency. Internal medicine was the most popular choice of specialty at DMS, followed by pediatrics, orthopaedic surgery, and diagnostic radiology. In tune with the national trend, many fewer students chose family medicine this year—down from 10 in 2005 and 6 in 2006 to just 3 in 2007. But overall the primary-care disciplines

held strong, with 24 students choosing internal medicine, pediatrics, or family medicine.

Another change this year is that 5 students opted to defer residency to pursue other interests. "Normally we see only one or two seniors deferring," noted Nierenberg, "but with more seniors graduating with interests in research and completion of joint degrees, this may become increasingly common."

New Hampshire, California, and New York were the most popular destinations for DMS '07s. Massachusetts, usually a hot spot for Dartmouth grads, gets only three this year.

Though these changes may seem dramatic, it's important to put them in perspective, said Nierenberg. "Results each year can go up and down sharply," he noted, because each student represents nearly 2% of the class.

Coming: Match Day also brings word to DHMC of how many newly minted doctors will be coming to New Hampshire. This year, Dartmouth welcomes 102 new trainees, while the New Hampshire-Dartmouth Family Practice Residency gains 8.

Now, with Match Day well behind them and graduation a recent memory, both the outgoing graduates and the incoming residents will soon be consumed by a different kind of madness—making it through their first few months of postgraduate training.

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