March 15, 2018

Two days of March madness: Game day (March 15) and Match Day (March 16)

In her monthly message to Michigan Medicine, Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Carol R. Bradford, M.D., compares the excitement on campus for the Wolverines and our medical students

Michigan basketball and Medical School Match Day

Basketball photo courtesy @umichbball

March is a time of madness, although many associate the fervor with the annual NCAA basketball tournaments.

At Michigan Medicine, we have our own March madness on Match Day, an exhilarating annual event in which graduating medical students learn where they have matched for their residency training. 

There are many similarities between the annual three-week hoops celebration and Match Day, which takes place on Friday, March 16.

Basketball enthusiasts fill out online or paper brackets to predict the next national champion. For graduating medical students, they completed their own residency bracket, traveling and interviewing extensively before selecting a list of destinations where they would like to continue medical training.

College basketball teams aspire to reach the Final Four. Medical students assemble a preferred list of their final five. Or, elite 8 or sweet 16.

Sixty-eight teams play in the NCAA tournament, and those chosen on Sunday have been sent all over the country. Medical students have applied for coveted spots at medical institutions across the country, and several apply to stay at the University of Michigan.

There is much excitement for the basketball teams to find out whom, when and where they will play. This is what makes Match Day so special, as a similar excitement permeates gatherings at U.S. medical schools, including our Match Day festivities at the North Campus Research Complex.

Medical students nationwide receive their envelopes at high noon — all of them; all at the same time. Many rip open the enclosures on the spot; others do so in private. They cheer, shriek and cry and generate a noise that rivals any fan base cheering on their hoops team in arenas from Buffalo to Detroit to Orlando to Sacramento.

A select group of students hold their envelopes close to the vest, choosing instead to open them in front of more than 500 classmates, family member and friends. The pressure and thrill are similar to a player lining up to shoot free throws with seconds left in the game, and maybe his or her season.

Our Wolverines have rounded into one of the NCAA tournament’s best teams. We similarly boast a strong group of medical students who will move on to their own version of the NBA — suiting up not in shorts and high-top sneakers, but instead sporting gleaming white coats and stethoscopes at elite medical institutions across the country.

Here are some impressive stats from our Medical School roster:

  • In 2017, nearly 99 percent of U-M students entering the national match process matched to a residency spot in the intensely competitive environment, far above the national average.
  • Of those, 22 percent matched to residency slots at Michigan Medicine, and 30 percent to hospitals in Ann Arbor, metro Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
  • Forty-five percent of our 2017 graduates entered a field that can lead to a career in primary care.

Many expect the Wolverines to make a run at the Final Four, and we expect similar success for our doctors-to-be.

The Wolverines return to the court Thursday night; Match Day tips off at noon on Friday. Go Blue!


Carol R. Bradford, M.D., M.S., FACS
Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, U-M Medical School
Chief Academic Officer, Michigan Medicine
Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology