March 20, 2020

So, what exactly is Match Day?

Obtaining a Doctor of Medicine degree is a wonderful achievement. Before you’re allowed to treat patients, however, you need to complete more training to become the specific kind of doctor you want to be – it’s called residency training, and it all starts on Match Day. Match Day is one of the biggest days in the lives of graduating medical students at universities across the country and around the world. After months of applying and interviewing, Match Day is the culmination of many hours of preparation to finally learn the next step in a student’s medical training journey.

Who decides who goes where?

It’s a bit like dating while on a job interview – yes, it’s stressful. Medical students send applications to hospitals that offer training in their specialty, in hopes of receiving an invitation to interview. After a completed interview season, students log onto a website and list the places where they would most like to train, putting their top choices first. In turn, program director’s log on as well and list their top choices of residents. Then, deciding who goes where involves an incredibly complex computer program that takes that information to decide a match.

How complex is it?

The nonprofit National Resident Matching Program combines all the ranked lists of soon-to-graduate medical students (and recent graduates), and all the directors of the programs that have spots open. The Match is designed to provide a fair and orderly mechanism for matching the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors. It’s so complex, and so well-designed, that the researchers who came up with the concept received the Nobel Prize in Economics!

What’s it like on Match Day?

Once the dust has settled on the matching process, tens of thousands of students receive their Match letter. This is top-secret and everyone in the US (and those overseas who want to come to the US) open their letter at the same time. Though this year will be quite different in terms of celebrating, there is typically a lot of tears, joyful shouts, hugs and sometimes, disappointment. Again, not this year, but most medical schools organize festivities for the occasion and enjoy having the students attend with their closest loved ones. Some brave souls open their Match Day letters on a stage in front of everyone, others quietly find a corner and read their fate alone. Sadly, it’s not all balloons and confetti for everyone. Some students who don’t match into any of their chosen programs have to try to match again after the initial matching is over. Some will find a spot in a program that has openings even after the initial match. This is not ideal, but students will still be able to start residency. Others may decide to conduct research for a year or pursue another degree before trying again. 

How many residents will NGMC accept?

Last March was the inaugural Match Day for NGMC. Twenty Internal Medicine resident slots and 6 General Surgery slots were filled. Today, NGMC will match again for Internal Medicine and General Surgery, and for the first time, Family Medicine.

All in all, NGMC will (hopefully) have 64 total residents who will be in a vibrant community-based training program, intentionally grounded in the core values of our health system: Respectful compassion, passion for excellence, deep interdependence and responsible stewardship.

NGMC is so excited to meet and introduce you to the future physician leaders of tomorrow – who, we hope, will be caring for the northeast Georgia community for years to come.

For more information about the NGMC Graduate Medical Education program, visit