The nurse heading the residency matching program tackles criticism

The National Resident Matching Program pairs medical graduates with compatible residencies and its president and CEO is a nurse, which is creating controversy, Medscape Medical News reported March 1.

Medscape interviewed Donna Lamb, DHSc, BSN, about her work. Some critics have concerns that a nurse will not understand the needs of physicians.

Ms. Lamb disagreed. "It doesn't take a physician to run an organization. I'm leading the day-to-day operations of the organization. But this organization is governed by a board of 19 individuals; 13 of those are physicians, and so there is physician leadership. There are deans, vice deans, medical student advisors, program directors. There are faculty members. We also have medical students, residents and fellows on the board."

She said her nursing background and working alongside physicians helps her understand and aid in the transition to residency and beyond. She added that under her leadership, the program is working on ways to improve the matching process.

Recently, it proposed a two-day match process, but nixed it after three months of feedback from the public, medical students and educators, despite 60 percent of participants approving the proposal, according to Medscape.

"That proposal, although it was not adopted in its current form, has not died," Ms. Lamb said. "We are going to continue to look at what's good in that proposal that we can use and that we can potentially innovate on further to improve the process. We've also been asked to look at whether or not we would be willing to wrap some policies around the interview period. We're going to look at how we create more transparency from programs [revealing] exactly what they are looking for, how are students and other applicants supposed to know whether or not they're eligible for a program or whether they're the type of applicant a program is looking for? And then, where we see community buy-in and where we see a benefit to applicants and programs, we will implement those changes."

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