Match Day

Dean Termuhlen's Take Header

In this month’s installment of Dean Termuhlen’s Take On …, our dean Dr. Paula Termuhlen discusses Match Day and the excitement that is building at WMed as the life-changing event draws closer for our fourth-year students – the MD Class of 2022.

Dean Termuhlen's Take PhotoAs Match Day approaches – your first as the Dean of WMed - what are you most excited about for students in the MD Class of 2022 and the WMed community as a whole?

The most exciting thing about Match Day at any medical school is always the recognition that you’re launching a whole new crop of young physicians of a wide variety of types. It’s almost an event more important than graduation because it really signals the transition into the next phase of the profession for our learners. Match Day also serves as a sign to the WMed community as a whole of the work they have done and the idea that everybody plays a role in helping launch this next group of young physicians into their careers. It’s really a time of celebration for all of us.

As our fourth-year students prepare for Match Day and the nerves and excitement that can come with the event, what is the one piece of advice you would give them?

Trust the process and it will all be OK. The Match has been designed to maximize the likelihood that a student will obtain the residency and the specialty of their choice in the place of their choosing. So, trusting the process is important. Having said that, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you originally planned and that happens in life and we know it can happen on Match Day. And, yet, in the vast majority of instances when that unpleasant surprise might occur, it all turns out OK in the end. I had two classmates in medical school who did not match into their preferred specialty and both of them today are happy, practicing physicians. One is working in the specialty they originally wanted but they had to take a different path to get there. The other classmate also took a different path and has ultimately ended up in a very rewarding career and in the same practice location for 25 years now.

Talk about your experience as a fourth-year medical student and learning where you would be headed for residency training. What do you remember most about that experience and what important lessons did you learn from the process?

What I remember about my Match experience is that I did trust the process and we landed in Houston, Texas, for my residency training, which was my second choice. Ultimately it was exactly where I needed to be. It was fabulous training, it gave me an opportunity to live outside of the Midwest for a substantial period of time, and I learned a lot about a different culture and a whole different group of people. The lesson around that is that by trusting the process and keeping an open mind you can find yourself growing and learning in ways you never really expected. I’m very proud to be from the Midwest and to have lived in the Midwest almost all of my professional career but I’m also equally proud that I took the opportunity to spend time in a different part of the country. It allows me now to connect with people in a different way.

Looking back, what would you say were keys to your success as a resident physician fresh out of medical school?

One of the keys to success – and I think about this from my own personal experience as a resident and as a program director –  is really connecting with your group within your residency program. As a trainee, you’re going to be with a smaller cohort of people who are very much interested in the exact same thing you are. You begin to have common interests and experiences and can share and help each other learn the best way forward. The other thing I would say is that the practice of medicine is in the details and so there’s a responsibility as a young physician to embrace and understand that your decisions can now have immediate impact on your patients. It’s a heavy responsibility but students – particularly our WMed students – are very well prepared to take that on. You have to strive to provide care for your patients in the best way possible and, therefore, you have to take care of yourself, do everything you can to be prepared, and really give your full attention to the work.

As the leader of the medical school, what things will you look for as indicators that Match Day was successful for our fourth-year students, residency programs, and the institution (i.e., 100% match rate, mix of specialties, etc.)?

We know nationally that the vast majority of medical students will get one of their first three choices for residency training. I want to see that kind of success for the Class of 2022. I also recognize that we don’t always get it right the first time so another thing I will look at to gauge our overall success is that – for the very few learners who may find themselves in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) – we help them identify a good plan for the next year that will lead them to a final training position. For our residency programs at WMed, we want to make sure that all of our positions are filled and that we celebrate the people that have chosen to come to Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan to train with our programs. They will come from a wide range of places with a wide range of experiences and really add color and life to the work that we do here.

A Hat Tip from Dr. T.

I want to take a moment to recognize and appreciate Cheryl Dickson, MD, MPH, our associate dean for Health Equity and Community Affairs, and Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD, our associate dean for Culture and Wellness, for taking on key leadership roles as we redesign our efforts to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion at WMed. Their guidance of our DEI standing committee has been invaluable and their work to spearhead our new Ally Training Program is helping position the institution to accomplish the important work ahead of us around DEI.

Dean Termuhlen’s Take On ... is a monthly message from our dean to discuss topics of importance to WMed, medical school stakeholders, and the communities that make up Southwest Michigan. Is there a topic you would like to hear Dean Termuhlen’s take on? Let us know by sending a message to