2011 marked the first year the number of successful matches to residency programs for American medical school seniors exceeded 15,000, according to data released in March by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Overall, 80 percent of students matched to one of their top three choices. For students who selected otolaryngology as their specialty at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, the rate was 100 percent: all nine graduating seniors matched to one of their top residency program choices.
“Highly competitive specialties like otolaryngology tend to attract a high caliber of applicant – those at the top of their medical school class, those with the most research and awards,” says Soham Roy, MD, FACS, FAAP, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and director of undergraduate medical education for otolaryngology at the UTHealth Medical School. “In specialty areas like ours, only about 40 percent of graduating seniors who apply will actually match into an otolaryngology residency program. Having nine candidates in the matching process and all nine matched to one of their top choices of programs made this a banner year for our department and the medical school.”
Last year, all six graduating seniors who selected otolaryngology matched at their top choices, making this the second consecutive year the department had a 100 percent match rate. Dr. Roy attributes the success to a strong mentorship program.“The residency application process is long, arduous, time consuming and extremely taxing mentally and emotionally,” he says. “You compile your academic credentials and accomplishments in medical school, and write essays and a personal statement. Add onto that the stress of knowing that in a selective specialty you’re facing stiff competition for a relatively small number of residency positions.
“Because otolaryngology is so competitive, we have a very active mentorship process,” says Dr. Roy, who is director of pediatric otolaryngology at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “We start working with our students in the third year, helping guide their research projects and rotations, and meeting with them weekly. As the faculty mentor, I review their applications. We prepare them for interviews and take them every step of the way through the process.”
Conducted annually by the NRMP, the match uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants to the preferences of residency programs to fill the residency training positions available at hospitals in the United States.
This year’s UTHealth student matches to otolaryngology residency programs are Brittny Burkhalter, MD, University of Michigan; Cara Cunningham, MD, Mayo Clinic; David Hernandez, MD, Northwestern University; Michael Moore, MD, Medical University of South Carolina; Raphael Nwojo, MD, University of Miami; Jordan Pleitz, MD, University of Kentucky; Ross Shockley, MD, Vanderbilt University; Ashley Wenaas, MD, Baylor College of Medicine; and Matthew Pierce, MD, Georgetown University.