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April 16, 2014

Bradley Burmeister: The Perfect Match

April 16, 2014

Bradley Burmeister is an M.D. candidate in the MSU College of Human Medicine.

It all came down to this: Match Day. Forty applications, 16 interviews, hundreds of miles on the road, eight years of medical school, and my future, all came down to what was inside the envelope at noon on March 21.

As a senior medical student at the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, Match Day was my day. It was the day I learned where my next years of training would take me, and solidified the field in which I will specialize. Match Day culminates the past year that was spent on applications, interviewing and ranking programs. At noon on Match Day senior medical students throughout the country opened an envelope which told them where they have matched and where they are to complete their residency training.

As a first generation college student, making it to Match Day was a unique experience for my family and me. I grew up in rural northeastern Wisconsin—so rural that one of my medical school colleagues who grew up in Marquette referred to my hometown as “really rural” when he visited for a Packer game.

Medical students with their "Match Day" letters

My father is a logger and my mother works in a paper mill. I was raised to value a strong work ethic and community. In Wisconsin there is a philosophical belief, similar to the land-grant foundation of Michigan State, called the “Wisconsin Idea,” which embraces education and raising the state’s children so that they will ultimately benefit the community. Attending a medical school that embraced this philosophy was important to me.

Growing up, I had read and dreamed about Match Day and hoped that someday I would match somewhere and finally that day was here. On the surface Match week is filled with a lot of excitement and anxiety, but to me, and probably most medical students, it has a deeper meaning. It is the day that begins our transition from medical student to resident physician. It is the first time most of us will have a “real” job complete with salary, benefits and responsibility.

I was lucky to match into my first choice program in Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In 2013, 528 U.S. seniors didn’t have a match. With a projected physician shortage of 130,000 by 2025 it’s important to take action to increase the number of residency spots throughout the country.

Match Day will likely be one of the defining moments in my life. Now that it’s over the rush of paperwork for the new job and process of relocating has taken over!