This year’s Match Day brought an element of growth to the annual event known as an exciting rite of passage in the lives of thousands of medical students around the world. Not only was this the largest Main Residency Match® in history, it was a record-breaking recruitment season for the Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program that welcomed 15 interns as their Match Class of 2021.
“We were incredibly excited to open that envelope and see the names on our list. In fact, some of our faculty were so excited they began contacting some of the Matches they interviewed along the way which I think is unique and pretty remarkable,” says Dr. Annemarie Thompson, Duke Anesthesiology’s residency program director. “It was so satisfying to watch how happy my colleagues were during the unveiling and how enthusiastic they are to welcome these individuals to our team this summer. It was one of the most special moments of Match Day for me.”
Dr. Thompson was in her office, surrounded by her colleagues, when her Match list was revealed this year. But she says her memories of the drama, the tears and the sheer joy at her Match Day celebration during medical school are never too far away to tap into. “It still feels like a whole lifetime in a minute when you open that envelope; medical students learn where they’re going to train and spend the next few years of their lives, and we learn who will join our program.”
She collectively describes this incoming class as “great people” who have demonstrated the capacity to help others in many aspects of their lives, even before going into medicine, a quality Dr. Thompson believes is one of the foundations of being a good doctor. “When looking at my list of Matches each year, I can immediately see how a class will come together and form their own identity. This class has quickly become known for their intelligence, humor and wide variety of life experiences. That type of diversity is a great addition to our Duke family,” she says.
Selecting the Match class is no small feat. A dedicated team of faculty and residents is committed to recruiting the best and the brightest during interview season at Duke Anesthesiology. “I’m always looking to improve the process,” adds Dr. Thompson, “but my guiding principal is to give potential Matches an authentic view of what it’s like to be a resident at Duke Anesthesiology.” She does so by creating an environment of authenticity during the interview process; talking about the program and personally showing applicants the potential and opportunities they can have training at Duke and living in Durham.
According to the National Resident Matching Program, 35,969 U.S. and international medical students and graduates vied for 31,757 positions, the most-ever offered in the Match. Dr. Thompson keeps a close eye on these numbers, specifically noting that this year, there were more anesthesiology positions available in the Match which means programs grew, including Duke Anesthesiology’s, which offered one more intern position for 2017. The Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program also received more applications than ever before, reaching a high of 1,013 applicants, an increase that Dr. Thompson partially attributes to Duke’s size and faculty.
“Duke has a unique position compared to other residency programs and we have enjoyed a reputation for having an innovative program that people want to join,” says Dr. Thompson. “We’re a large, international medical center, but contained within it is a medium-sized, very supportive residency program located in a fun and affordable place to live. We truly have world-class faculty here. We have people in every single field who are nationally and internationally recognized. For residents to have the opportunity to work one-on-one with our faculty, get involved in their projects and patient care, and receive advice during particular periods of their career is a treasure. Our faculty is what makes our program so special. I’m very proud of what we have to offer as an institution.”
As Duke Anesthesiology patiently waits to formally welcome the Match Class of 2021 and Drs. Jack Gamble and Angela Li prepare for their new roles as co-chief residents, Dr. Thompson leaves the incoming trainees with this advice: “Come in with the great attitude that you have displayed throughout your medical career. Don’t ever be discouraged. Taking care of patients is one of the greatest responsibilities anyone can have. Celebrate with each other during the good times and lean on each other in the bad. The road is long but you’ll soon find that you have a supportive network as you go through both your professional and personal journey as a resident – a network of people who will become lifelong friends and colleagues. There are very few jobs that can give you the personal satisfaction of being a doctor. I would do it all over again and I hope this class will one day look back and say the same.”