A physician's education does not end when they receive an M.D. after graduation from medical school. They must complete a residency in the specialty of their choice, such as family medicine or surgery. Most residency programs range from three to seven years and are required for a physician to earn board certification and practice medicine.
Applying for residency is not like applying to college. Medical students and residency programs use the National Resident Matching Program to fill residency positions. After applying and interviewing to programs, applicants and programs rank each other through a blinded process. A computer program analyzes the ranked-order lists and assigns students to open residency spots.
Every year on the third Friday of March at noon EST, medical students across the country find out what residency program they will attend on Match Day. Because there are more applicants than spots available, some students do not successfully match.
The process is more complex if two medical students decide to do the match process as a couple. Couples are able rank programs in tandem, according to their preference of living in the same place or not.