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Woody Smelser, a fourth-year medical student and president of his medical school class, opens his envelope on Match Day. He was anxious to know if he’d been matched for the residency of his choice. Katie Smelser, his wife, was also a graduating medical student. The national program allows for students to participate in the match as a couple. Katie Smelser will complete her residency at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in pediatrics, and Woody Smelser will complete his residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Match Day: MU Medical Students in High Demand Across Nation

Ninety-nine percent of the class received a residency program match

COLUMBIA, Mo. — After four years of medical school and countless hours of anticipation, medical students gathered at the University of Missouri School of Medicine today to get a glimpse of what their future holds.

This is Match Day 2015. For 101 graduating medical students at MU and hundreds of others across the nation, it’s a day to rip open sealed letters revealing where they will spend the next three to seven years in their first jobs as physicians, training in their chosen specialties.

This annual event of the National Resident Matching Program pairs medical students across the nation with physician residency programs. Students rank their residency program choices in order of preference, and residency program directors rank their choices among the students. With the information from students’ and residency directors’ rankings, the National Resident Matching Program determines the best matches for students and residency programs.

More than 40,000 medical school graduates competed for approximately 29,000 residency positions this year. The 2015 class of students from MU School of Medicine was highly sought after: Ninety-nine percent of the class received a residency program match, meaning many hospitals and health systems chose graduating MU medical students as their top residency candidates.

At 99 percent, the number of MU School of Medicine graduates matched with residencies is above the national average match rate of approximately 94 percent.

For Woody Smelser, a fourth-year medical student from New Madrid, Missouri, who is president of his medical school class, opening his envelope on Match Day sparked waves of emotion. Not only was Smelser anxious to know if he’d been matched for the residency of his choice, but his wife, Katie Smelser, was also a graduating medical student.

The national program allows for students to participate in the match as a couple. But that meant the Smelsers had to agree to have their rank-ordered lists of preferred residency programs linked to each other so they could try to match to a pair of programs that suited both their needs. Woody is specializing in urology and Katie wanted a residency program in internal medicine and pediatrics. On Friday, they learned they had been matched close together, with Woody’s residency at University of Kansas Medical Center and Katie at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Of all the emotions today, relief is the one that stands out the most because we will be together,” said Katie Smelser.

“It is a journey that starts out the first day of medical school and to come to the end of it and have an outcome where we are both together, I don’t think we could have asked for anything more,” said Woody Smelser. “We get to have our careers and our family together. For us it is a victory.”

The MU School of Medicine filled all 96 of its residency positions in the match. Many of those physicians -- 31 percent of MU School of Medicine’s class of 2015 – will stay on the MU campus for their residency training.

Forty-six percent of the MU School of Medicine 2015 class will remain in Missouri, and 49 percent of this graduating class selected residency programs in high-need primary care fields, including internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.

Posted March 20, 2015

MU Health Magazine


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