(FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) MADISON, WIS.– One-hundred and seventy-six fourth-year medical students, 12 of them seeking residency matches in obstetrics and gynecology, gathered with family and friends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the School of Medicine and Public Health’s annual Match Day ceremony. In introductory remarks, Dr. Gwen McIntosh , assistant dean for students at the School of Medicine and Public Health, spoke of the whirlwind tour of residency interviews, ultimately leading to one highly significant line of text tucked inside an envelope. “This process is like speed dating, ending in an arranged marriage,” Dr. McIntosh said. The hall erupted in laughter, and the envelope opening began.

Ob.gyn. continues to fill nearly all available PGY-1 residency slots: just eight of the 1,265 positions were unfilled after Match Day, meaning that 99.4% of the specialty’s spots were filled. In 2015, ob.gyn. filled all its spots, but offered 10 fewer residency positions than in 2016.

Ob.gyn. residency programs filled 981 positions with senior medical students from the United States. This figure is less than 2015, when 1,002 U.S. seniors matched into ob.gyn, but more than the 950 U.S. seniors going into ob.gyn. in 2014.

UW-Madison’s ob.gyn. residency program director, Dr. Ellen Hartenbach , said in an interview that she was delighted with the new class of residents she’ll welcome this summer. The program offers six residency positions, and all openings were filled with strong students, she said. All 12 of UW-Madison’s senior medical students who sought an ob.gyn. residency also matched into that specialty.

“Obstetrics and gynecology as a field is fortunate to be having increasing numbers of applicants,” said Dr. Hartenbach. “We’re getting top medical students.” Dr. Hartenbach said she’s seeing increasing interest in the specialty, as well as a growing appetite for subspecialty training. Female pelvic medicine, minimally invasive gynecology, and reproductive endocrinology and fertility are all current areas of growth, she said.

Liliana Palencia, a fourth year medical student at UW-Madison, is headed to her first choice, Southern Illinois University in Springfield, for her ob.gyn. residency. Ms. Palencia said she liked everything she experienced when she visited Southern Illinois University for her interview. “I got the best feeling from them. The faculty and residents really seemed to care about each other and to work together. The facilities, the curriculum – they were all great.”

She didn’t know she wanted to be an ob.gyn. when she came to medical school, though she had known she wanted to be a physician for a long time. Her father, who brought her family to the United States from Honduras for his residency when Liliana was small, is a family practice physician.

Ms. Palencia’s third-year ob.gyn. rotation at an urban Milwaukee site really solidified her specialty choice, and a sub-internship in gynecologic oncology helped her realize the variety available to ob.gyns. “This specialty represents everything I want in a career – it’s varied, there’s a clinical portion, there’s labor and delivery, and there’s the opportunity to perform surgery,” she said.

Asked if she was nervous about her residency, Ms. Palencia said, “Transitions are hard, and I’m expecting a steep learning curve. But I know that in the program I’m going to, I’ll be able to lean on those around me.” She thinks the hard work will be worth it, saying, “It’s important for women to have a physician they can trust.”

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