Match Week starts Monday morning at 11 AM ET in the USA. Although COVID-19 is an emergency that overshadows it, the 2020 National Residency Matching Program match will be the first single main residency match for DO and MD students. It is historic. I wish my fellow MS4s good luck this week, but I also implore leaders in medical education to consider refining our system to create less pressure on The Match. Some of our US-trained medical school graduates will fail.
I’ve been reading about how other countries structure medical education, and it varies greatly around the world. The US doesn’t have the worst medical education system, but it seems to be more toxic in structure and oppressive financially than most countries. Whether you believe that US medical schools graduate too many students, or that US residency training is the only route, our system seems to have a persistent mismatch.
Medicine shines when we come together. After this pandemic is over, what will we value as a society? I think we will be reminded of how much we value each other. When we meet people at their worst, most vulnerable, and desperate times, we are fulfilling our purpose. Therefore, do we continue to funnel medical school graduates into residency — and blame the ones that fail — or do we find a way to utilize unmatched medical school graduates, too?
I would support empowering medical school graduates without GME training to practice in the same capacity as PAs — if it could be done in a way that would not devalue either profession. Perhaps medical school graduation is not the time to earn the title of “Doctor.” Perhaps we could create a different title for medical school graduates that have not yet completed GME, and confer the title of “physician” and its’ privileges after an unrestricted license is received.
For our patients.
My takeaway from COVID-19 is that our patients are the reason we struggle and sacrifice, but we must also protect our own. This is another pivotal moment. As we celebrate the NRMP Match, we isolate our peers that did not succeed. It may not be time to address this, but when that day comes, we must ask: is this the best we can do for our patients and ourselves?
I want to thank the countless inspiring healthcare workers who are part of the response to this pandemic. I cannot imagine the fear in the hearts of the emergency departments and ICUs around the world. COVID-19 is an enormous threat, and I’m in awe at the unified and selfless response by medical personnel. Medicine is proving, through the unified efforts of all of us, that it truly can restore wellbeing and alleviate suffering in any circumstance.
I am a fourth-year medical student. I believe communication can bring about positive changes, so I encourage physicians to talk to politicians, political organizations, and medical associations. I previously authored, "Are We Tolerating The Status Quo Too Much?" and “Healthcare Suffers When Medical School Graduates Don't Match.” I strongly support the message of
Pamela Wible, MD: we need to bring humanity back into medicine. The system can be destructive enough to cause suicide. US physician-trainees need more support.
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