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University of Missouri

It’s a Match

Dreams come true for Mizzou medical students.

Mizzou Match Day 2015

MU medical students Katie Smelser and husband Woody Smelser open their envelopes on Match Day. Photo by Justin Kelley.

Every spring, the nation’s roughly 40,000 medical students who are set to graduate compete for about 29,000 residency positions, in which they will learn their specialty. Students rank their choices, and schools rank the students in return. When all goes well, it’s a match. During this nervous time, students wait to discover where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives. On Match Day, they gather and tear open envelopes to find out whether they will get their first choice.

For Woody Smelser, BS ’11, president of his medical school class, the day was all the more momentous because his wife and fellow medical student, Katie Prunty Smelser, BS ’11, also held an envelope in her hand. The national matching program allows students to participate in the match as a couple. But that meant the Smelsers had to agree to link their lists of preferred residency programs in hopes of matching a pair of programs that suited them both. Woody is specializing in urology and Katie in internal medicine and pediatrics. As luck (and hard work) would have it, their matches are nearby, with Woody at University of Kansas Medical Center and Katie at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The 2015 class did well overall, with 99 percent making a match. The MU School of Medicine filled all 96 of its residency positions, 31 percent of which will be filled by its 2015 class. About one-half of the class will specialize in high-need primary-care fields, including internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.

“I don’t think we could have asked for anything more,” Woody says. “We get to have our careers and our family together.”