Every year on a fateful Monday morning in February or March, one of the most important events in the Veterinary Student & Intern experience takes place: Match Day. Think NFL Draft Day – it’s just about as dramatic, nerve-racking, and momentous. This day dictates where a veterinarian’s next adventure will take them!
So what is veterinary Match Day and what happens after Match Day?
What Is Match Day?
Match Day is the day that soon-to-be veterinary school graduates find out if they have been accepted into a post-grad training program of their choice. In other words, if they’ve “matched” with one of the training programs they want to be in. This usually means an internship or a residency to further their practice and experience.
Months before Match Day, candidates begin applying to programs at institutions (teaching universities, private practices, or specialty hospitals) they’re interested in. Factors such as the resources available, compensation, geographic location, and patient load are all considered. Some only apply to a handful, while others apply to 20+. Candidates interview and then rank their choices in order of preference.
And then the whole process culminates to Match Day. The selection process is completed by a software program that takes both the applicants’ and institutions’ ranks into consideration. Eagerly clicking the refresh button on their computers, candidates around the world wait to find out who they’ve matched with and where they’ll be spending the next year (internship) or three years (residency).
To Match or Not to Match – What Happens Next?
If a candidate gets matched, Match Day becomes celebratory! Even if it wasn’t the top program of their choice, they got into a program they wanted in some capacity. Doctors start their new positions in June so it’s time to start packing!
For those who did not match, the “Scramble” begins.
Basically, those who do not match become free agents. The game is still on. Both sides begin making calls – programs who did not fill positions and applicants who did not match are sent each other’s information. For example, if a surgery internship in Wisconsin goes unfilled and a candidate is interested in a surgical internship, they will connect directly with that employer to attempt to secure the position.
Within 48 hours, most positions have been filled. It really is a scramble!
In the end, no matter where candidates end up, the future is bright and full of opportunities. As pet ownership surges, so does the need for veterinarians. Whether it’s small local practice, emergency & critical care, or a specialty career, the possibilities for veterinarians to grow and experiment in their careers is endless.