College of

Match Day 2016: Envelopes hold future for MSU College of Human Medicine Students

The tension in the banquet room was palpable as fourth-year MSU College of Human Medicine students waited until high noon on Match Day, the precise moment when they could tear open envelopes and learn where they would spend the next three to five years.

Yet Jana and Lara Baatenburg were remarkably relaxed. Unlike nearly everyone else in the room, the identical twins already knew where they will go for their residencies, the last years of their medical education. That’s because in their third year of medical school, both had been accepted in The Integrated Medical School and Family Medicine Residency Program (TIP) created by the college to encourage more students to choose that primary care specialty.

Usually, tradition and the rules dictate that the residency placement for each fourth-year student shall remain secret until noon on Match Day, which was March 18 this year. In Grand Rapids, East Lansing and the college’s five other regional campuses, as well as at hundreds of other locations around the country, medical students and their families gathered as the clock ticked toward the moment they would learn which residency program had accepted them.

Last fall, they had applied to the programs. Many had traveled across the country for interviews. The students then had submitted their lists of residency programs in preferred order. The residency programs, meanwhile, had submitted their own lists of students they would welcome. A computer algorithm operated by the nonprofit National Resident Matching Program had compared the lists and assigned each student to a residency.

Unlike their classmates, the Baatenburg sisters have known since May of 2015 that they both will spend the next three years doing their residencies at Spectrum Health and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, where both plan to practice family medicine.

This isn’t the first experience the two have shared. Both have master’s degrees in basic medical science from Wayne State University. Both are half marathon runners, and both help coach the track and field team at Unity Christian High School, their alma mater in nearby Hudsonville. They often complete each other’s sentences.

“We have a lot of similar interests, so we do a lot together,” Jana said, to which Lara added: “We’re competitive with each other, but not cutthroat.”

As noon approached, Angie Thompson-Busch, MD, the college’s Grand Rapids Community Associate Dean, sought to settle the students’ nerves by offering some last-minute reassurance.

“The good news is all of you sitting here have matched, and I’m happy for you,” she said. “We’ve coached you and guided you on the sidelines, but you’ve done all the work…

“Please don’t forget us, stay in touch, and congratulations.”

In unison, the students counted down the last 10 seconds and tore open their envelopes. Cheers erupted followed by hugs, high fives and some tears of joy.

Students circulated around the room, congratulating and asking classmates where they would be heading. Some indicated their destinations by pinning their photos to a United States map.

Match Day 2016

Kurt Ashack and Laura Haley hugged. Match Day could have sent them to opposite corners of the country, which would have been most inconvenient, since they plan to be married in May, a week after graduation. They were relieved to open their envelopes and learn both had matched with residency programs in Chicago – radiation oncology for Laura, dermatology for Kurt

“We wanted to be together,” she said, to which he added: “We could have been as far apart as California and New York.”

Highlights for the 2016 Residency Match and Appointments

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine had 186 senior students place in residencies confirmed through the National Resident Matching Program, Military Match and Advanced Matches.

Eighty-one fourth-year students or 43.5 percent of overall 2016 seniors are entering a primary care residency (i.e., Family Medicine, Medicine, Medicine/Pediatrics, and Pediatrics).

Seventy-eight Spartan MDs, or 41.9 percent, will remain in Michigan for 2016 for their residency training programs. Of graduates who will remain in the state of Michigan for training in 2016, 41.7 percent will be will be training in primary care.

The top seven specialty placements in rank order by percentage are listed below.

  • Pediatrics (30 graduates, 16.1%)
  • General Surgery (24 graduates, 12.9%)
  • Emergency Medicine (22 graduates, 11.8%)
  • Family Medicine (20 graduates, 10.8%)
  • Internal Medicine (20 graduates, 10.8%)
  • Obstetrics-Gynecology (14 graduates, 7.5%)
  • Internal Medicine/Pediatrics (11 graduates, 5.9%)