Meet the Class of 2024.
The Madison Residency Class of 2024 will soon join the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) after experiencing one the most unusual interview seasons in recent memory. It seems fitting that this year of changes will usher in the 70th anniversary of the National Resident Matching Program, more commonly known as The Match. Though the process has taken many forms throughout its history, none was perhaps as unique as the fully remote interview and touring schedules implemented by most programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is The Match?
The Match is a system where 4th year medical students and residency programs simultaneously match each other to fill first-year post-graduate training positions. After months of reviewing applications and conducting interviews, residency programs rank their top candidates and candidates rank their top programs. If those selections align, as expertly illustrated in this video, you have a match! Last year, 34,266 candidates filled first-year post-graduate positions nationally. If an applicant does not match to a program, they have an opportunity to pursue the Post-Match Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP), which gives eligible unmatched residency candidates the opportunity to apply to residency programs with unfilled positions.
In 2020, around 600 people applied to the Madison Residency Program— one of the largest programs in the country with 16 first-year positions available each year. Of those initial applicants, approximately 185 received invitations to interview.
COVID-19 and Resident Interviews
As the COVID-19 pandemic limited travel and personal contact, residency programs across the country got creative with their interview processes. In a typical year, the Madison program hosts five candidates per day, three days per week during the October-January interview season. Candidates traditionally travel to Madison from places across the globe where they join current residents for a dinner on the evening they arrive. The following day is packed with interviews, tours of all four residency clinics, and meetings with Residency Program Director Ildi Martonffy, MD, program staff, current residents and faculty. “It can be an exhausting day,” acknowledged Madison Residency Program Recruitment Coordinator Dan Samuelson. “Quite a few of our residents will attest that when they interviewed with our program they fell asleep in the van between clinic tours!”
This year’s schedule, though less physically grueling, posed its own unique challenges. The program staff were tasked with bringing the same spirit and excitement to the season by relying on remote tools. They rose to the challenge by enhancing the program’s social media presence on Instagram and producing highlight videos of the clinics, pathways and even a video covering frequently asked questions. Applicants also received festive postcards, locally made chocolates and the ever-popular Dr. Cow—a small squishy toy handed out at residency fairs that’s become the unofficial mascot of the program. “We really wanted people to get to know us, even if they had never been to Madison before,” said Samuelson. The interview schedule was also tweaked to accommodate 12 people interviewing virtually per day, two days per week. “I must admit, I was concerned that interviewing so many candidates each day would be exhausting. Instead, during a time of so much worry in the world, talking with so many talented, motivated, future family docs helped keep me grounded and focused on the wonderful future of family medicine,” said Martonffy.
Though some things changed, the rigorous method that goes into developing the final rank list remained the same. To help evaluate each applicant, and reduce implicit bias, the interview team uses a specially designed Applicant Evaluation Form known as the pink sheet for its distinct color. The sheet gives detailed guidance for how to rate an applicant’s answer to a specific question. This reduces the possibility that an evaluator could give, for example, a higher rating to an applicant because they bonded over shared interests.
Introducing the Class of 2024
The ranking order compiled and certified, DFMCH must wait, along with all residency programs in the United States, to learn who will be joining their new class. Match Day, the day when programs and applicants finally learn their fates, is typically held on the third Friday in March. On Friday, March 19, the Madison Residency Program team rejoiced after learning they filled all available slots. “I’m so proud of the hard work and dedication from this team, “shared Martonffy. “In a year with so many losses, we were able to provide an excellent experience for our applicants and were rewarded by matching with a group of talented individuals who reflect the excellence of the Madison Residency Program.” So as the Class of 2024 prepares to see Madison in real life (IRL), they can also enjoy the distinction of being the first, and possibly only, class to rely solely on technology to make their match.
Published: May 2021