The 168 members of the 2011 graduating class of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine exceeded the national average for matching to one of their top choices for residency training in the most competitive Match Day ever.
Match Day is when graduating seniors at U.S. medical schools learn where they will conduct their residency training and in which field. Match Day, coordinated by the National Resident Matching Program, involves approximately 16,000 U.S. medical school seniors and another 15,000 graduates of osteopathic or foreign medical schools.
The Class of 2011 also responded strongly to the need for more physicians in primary care and general surgery, areas where a future shortfall of doctors is predicted. Of the class, 43 percent will do residency training in one of the primary care fields, and 10 percent will conduct their residencies in general surgery.
UAB increased the size of its medical school classes by 10 percent in 2006 following a call from the Association of American Medical Schools and the federal government to increase enrollment to meet an expected future need for more doctors. The 2011 class is the second to graduate since that increase; however, the number of available residency positions has grown more slowly, increasing the competition for each available position. While all of UAB’s graduates have matched to a residency, about 1,000 graduates of U.S. medical schools across the country did not.
Laura Kezar, M.D., associate dean for students, said boosting the number of primary-care physicians within the state of Alabama is one of the school’s foremost missions. Forty-one percent of graduates in all specialties will remain in the state for residency training, and 74 percent will conduct their training somewhere in the Southeast.
“Studies have shown that physicians tend to establish their practices in the region or state where they conduct their residency training,” said Kezar.
Overall, UAB’s graduates will do residencies at 69 hospitals in 29 states. Twenty-two percent will go into a surgical field, 6 percent into emergency medicine and nearly 6 percent into obstetrics-gynecology.
Following graduation from medical school, new physicians spend at least three years in a residency program, receiving advanced training in their chosen field. Fourth-year medical school students across the country apply to their desired residency programs through the National Resident Matching Program and receive their acceptances on Match Day, begun in 1952.