Each year, at noon on the third Friday of March, medical students in the United States wait anxiously to learn where their professional career will take them after the culmination of their studies. As of May 2015 there are 179 total medical schools in the United States. This includes 143 allopathic (MD) and 36 osteopathic (DO) medical schools. The result of Match Day determines not only the type of training each student will receive but also defines their medical specialty and, ultimately, where they will live during the first years of their chosen profession.
The National Resident Match Program began in 1952 at the request of medical students for an orderly and fair mechanism for matching residents to programs. Today, using the resultant algorithm updated in 1997 to minimize the hospital-optimal nature of the original, the best possible matches of the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors are made. The Program now encompasses more than 40,000 applicants and 30,000 positions and is a blind process – neither the applicant nor the program sees each other’s list. Both applicants and programs are contractually obligated to the residency, internship, or fellowship program to which they match.