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The wait is over: It’s Match Day for U.S. medical students

Today is Match Day for medical students across the United States who will be finding out where they will serve as residents.

Today is an extra special day. It's the third Friday in March -- and for graduating medical students across the country -- that means Match Day is finally here.

If you're new to this annual medical school milestone, Match Day is a big deal. It's the day when U.S. medical students open an envelope with their name on it at precisely 12 p.m. Eastern time (9 a.m. at Stanford) to reveal the name of the medical school they'll attend as resident physicians.

The envelope-opening ceremony is over in just a few moments, but the actual matching process is a year-long undertaking, which begins each May when medical students declare the medical specialty they'd like to pursue, and start their search for a residency program.

In July, residency programs and medical students create profiles in the Electronic Residency Application Service managed by the nonprofit National Resident Matching Program.

In September, medical students apply to residency programs. In the following weeks before the end of the year, residency programs will review applications and send interview invitations, and medical students travel for interviews. In January, medical students rank their top picks for residency programs on their ERAS profile, and residency programs indicate how many students they'll accept for the following year.

The match itself is determined by a computer algorithm managed by NRMP. Their algorithm sorts through each medical student's list of residency programs they'd like to attend, and aligns their preferences with the students chosen by the directors of residency programs.

The Monday before Match Day, medical students find out if they matched to a residency program. Today, they'll learn which residency program they'll attend.

According to people who have experienced Match Day before, today is a day of possibility, excitement tinged with stress, and relief as medical students now know the information they need to start planning for the future.

We'll share highlights from Stanford Medicine's Match Day reveal on Stanford Medicine's Instagram, TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn accounts. Follow and use the hashtag #StanfordMatch to take part in Stanford Medicine's Match Day online. And, meet some of the students who matched next week on Scope.

Good luck and congratulations to all the medical students matching today!

Photo by Mark Hanlon

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