Day of reckoning

Tomorrow is Match day for American medical students. Around the hospital today, the tension was palpable. Everyone was a little irritable and distracted. Maybe it's because our school didn't do so well on Black Monday. Or maybe it's a reaction to the snow. Either way, I'm glad I've still got a year to go.

The Chicago Sun-Times has a brief article on the Match process, as well as the anti-trust lawsuit against it.

Students have ranked, in order of preference, the teaching hospitals where they hope to do their residencies. Hospitals in turn have ranked the students. A computer will match each student with one hospital.
More than 80 percent of students get one of their top three choices. Match Day "benefits students as well as institutions," said Jeffrey Miller, an associate dean of Northwestern University medical school.
But a lawsuit is alleging that Match Day exploits students and violates anti-trust laws. Match Day "is part and parcel of a scheme by hospitals to keep residents' salaries artificially depressed," said Chicago attorney Sherman Marek, one of the lead plaintiff counsels.
A resident matched to a single hospital is in no position to negotiate salary and working conditions, because there's no other place to go, Marek said. First-year residents wind up working 80 hours a week for about $40,000 a year. That amounts to about $10 per hour for an M.D. who has gone through eight years of college and medical school.

Medical students are a diverse bunch. If you count summer jobs in high school, and research rotations, or even post-college jobs, I know a few who can say that $10 an hour is the most they've ever made. And there are plenty who have never made less. Finally, there are some who've never had a job at all.

There's a discussion on the merits of the Match underway over at A Chance to Cut.

UPDATE: Glorfindel of Gondolin is an MD pursuing a JD, and has some thoughts and links on the Match and the suit. And I finally figured out this trackback feature.