Match Day brings drama for Maryland medical students

Hundreds at Hopkins, U. of Md. medical schools learn where they will be residents

March 18, 2010|By Kelly Brewington and Joe Burris | Baltimore Sun reporters

Nikki Alworth stared at the envelope, then stared again, her eyes scanning the words over and over.

She wasn't imagining things. The University of Maryland medical student would remain at the university to begin her career as a doctor in emergency medicine. No need to sell the house in Rodgers Forge. No need for her husband to find a new job and to hunt for new day care for their 18-month old daughter Finley. And no need to fret any longer -- she got her first choice.

In an annual ritual steeped in tradition, suspense and plenty of drama, Alworth was among the 15,000 medical students at 130 medical schools across the nation who simultaneously ripped opened "Match Day" letters Thursday, notifying them where they'll spend their post-graduate medical training. Nearly 300 of those students opened their envelopes at the medical schools of the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

With the uncertainty of health care reform and a shortage of primary-care physicians hanging over their profession, the students have plenty to consider as they begin their residencies. But for many, the letters foretold the paths their personal lives will take over the next few years -- whether they would move or stay in place, join a significant other or be separated, pursue a dream or settle for something less.

"I've been shaking and sweating and preparing for the worst," said Alworth, beaming. "I still don't think this has hit me."

Those who matched included several students who will spend the next six years as the first residents in a new urban health program at the Hopkins medical school, managing the medical problems of the inner-city poor -- including diabetes, alcoholism and domestic violence. The residents will be trained jointly in medicine and pediatrics.

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