Match Day – and the contents of a white envelope – determines the future for OHSU medical students

03/08/13  Portland, Ore.

Fourth-year medical students at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, along with every other graduating medical student in the United States, will learn where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives on “Match Day,” Friday, March 15, at 9 a.m. in the CROET (Center for Research in Occupational and Environmental Toxicology)/RJH (Richard Jones Hall) Atrium, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239.

Their destination is determined by a sophisticated computer algorithm that matches students to graduate medical education, or residency, programs based on their application, interview and program preferences, and the student preferences of the residency program to which they’ve applied.

Through this tried-and-true system, 85 percent of medical students are accepted to one of their top three choices, and 60 percent are matched to their No. 1 choice, according to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

“We are tremendously proud of all our medical students, and as faculty, we share in their excitement as they look ahead to the next phase of their medical training,” said Mark Richardson, M.D., MBA, dean, OHSU School of Medicine. “They will be entering a field in which, by some estimates, knowledge doubles every three years, and which will continue to evolve as health care reform and new models of health care delivery take effect. It’s a period of change in which our graduates have great potential to shape the future course of medicine.”

The OHSU School of Medicine’s nationally ranked primary care residency programs —internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics — remain among the most sought-after programs among residency applicants across the nation, according to data from NRMP, with 5,198 applications for 69 slots. This level of interest is true across all specialties in OHSU’s residency training programs.

“Match Day is one of those milestones in a physician’s career that will be remembered years from now for its ability to shape one’s professional life,” said George Mejicano, M.D., senior associate dean for education, OHSU School of Medicine. “It’s a thrilling time not only for our own medical students but also for medical students around the country who learn they’ll be joining OHSU’s graduate medical education programs in July. The event underscores the critical role that the OHSU School of Medicine plays for Oregon in providing a full-service, lifelong continuum of premier educational programs for our physician workforce.”

Following are four profiles of graduating medical students and a brief description of how they determined in which area of medicine they hope to practice.

Jenna Emerson, 26

Jenna Emerson began her studies at OHSU with a clear perspective on the health care needs of rural populations in Oregon as well as the extreme environment of poverty stricken countries like Guatemala, where she was a health care aide for a year after college. The daughter of the only bovine veterinarian in southern Tillamook County, Jenna worked in a veterinary clinic in college. But she transferred her focus to human health when she became aware of the plight of an increasing number of immigrant agricultural workers in Tillamook County. That commitment deepened in Guatemala where she was inspired by cases of advanced cervical cancer and decided to make women’s health issues in the developing world a significant part of her career. Jenna plans to specialize within the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

“I really loved every rotation in medical school, and OBGYN is one of the very few fields that incorporates everything in medicine. I look forward to a career where I will have a life-long relationship with my patients, a mix of high- and low-acuity complex problems and both medical and surgical skills.”

Richard Bruno, 32

When he was in his early teens, Richard Bruno volunteered at a summer camp for kids with health conditions. From that experience, he learned about the intricacies of living with disease and hoped to one day be in a role where he could help people along their path to healing and leading fulfilling lives. Richard believes that physicians have the imperative to advocate for the health of their patients outside the confines of the exam room. His advocacy interests have taken him to the nation’s capitol to rally with fellow students for universal healthcare and inspired him to film uninsured patient stories to get them on to the public stage. Richard would be grateful for the opportunity to practice in Oregon; he plans to specialize in family and preventive medicine.

“The research on the social determinants of health tells us that only a small part of our patients’ health is actually influenced by the medical care we provide. Advocacy can happen on multiple levels, from the practice to community programs to population based policy.”

Sungjin Song, 25

Sungjin Song has always believed in the importance of service, community and health but it wasn’t until a 2-month volunteer operation in rural Gambia that his personal experiences with doctors, nurses and patients affirmed his ambitions to pursue medicine. Sungjin is in the Army and has matched in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Military matches are made early.)

“My pursuing otolaryngology stems from my love of vocal music. ENTs can preserve and restore voice in patients who have lost their voice due to cancer. After witnessing the rewarding feeling of helping to give a patient a second chance at life and a voice, I realized that I needed to pursue otolaryngology. I wanted to pursue my goal of giving others a voice and restoring their life's music.”

Jessica Fowler, 27 and Jacob Wester, 26

Jessica Fowler and Jacob Wester are both native Oregonians who met while attending Oregon State University. During their undergrad studies, the couple participated in a pediatric health internship in Argentina together. They were both accepted to OHSU’s School of Medicine and now they are excited to learn where they’ll be headed for their residency programs before their wedding later this spring. Jessica will pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology and Jacob plans on practicing otolaryngology/head and neck surgery. After their residency programs are complete, Jessica and Jacob hope to practice in Oregon.

“It’s been a blessing to have someone right there with you throughout it all who knows exactly what type of stress you are under. It's that extra little bit of motivation to keep you studying at night or all weekend long when you have your significant other right there with you.”

Quick Facts

  • This year there were 5,198 applications for 69 slots in OHSU's primary care residency program, specifically:
    • 1,241 for 12 spots in Family Medicine
    • 1,004 for 8 spots in Family Medicine Cascade East
    • 1,032 for 16 spots in Pediatrics
    • 1,921 for 33 spots in Internal Medicine
  • 121 medical students will graduate from the OHSU School of Medicine in 2013.
  • OHSU ranks 10th in the nation for in-state retention of physicians who complete their residencies at OHSU.
  • OHSU ranks third in the nation for primary care (U.S. News & World Report).
  • One-third of all physicians in Oregon completed all or part of their training at OHSU.
  • 46 percent of all OHSU medical school graduates end up practicing in Oregon.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only academic health and research university. As Portland's largest employer with nearly 14,000 employees, OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support not found anywhere else in the state. OHSU serves patients from every corner of Oregon and is a conduit for learning for more than 4,300 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.