Science

Medical Schools’ ‘Match Day’ Highlights Looming Doctor Shortage

A pair of Emory medical students celebrate Match Day, having just learned they got into their ''first choice'' residency programs.
A pair of Emory medical students celebrate Match Day, having just learned they got into their ''first choice'' residency programs.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

At medical schools across the U.S. today, fourth-year medical students learned where they’ll spend the next chapter in their lives.An audio version of this story

It’s known as “Match Day,” and at Emory, it felt like Black Friday mayhem just before those $99 big screen TVs go on sale.

In the middle of the medical school atrium, 133 medical students stand nervously, watching the clock tick. 

“Seven. Six. Five…” they count in unison as the clock nears noon. When the hour and minute hands meet, students rush to a nearby row of tables where sealed envelopes wait.

Eveleigh Wagner is in tears as she peels open the one with her name on it.

“I’m going to Vanderbilt for Psychiatry,” exclaims Wagner, 26, of Marietta, Georgia. “It’s my first choice!”

Ten years from now, the U.S. could see a shortage of between 46,000 and 90,000 doctors. To cope, medical schools have increased enrollment in recent years.

“The medical schools have responded,” says Emory Executive Associate Dean Bill Eley. “But we haven’t had a corresponding number of slots increase in residencies.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there are about 27,000 available residency slots this year, with some 35,000 doctors vying to fill them.