Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emergence of a rank list?

Cross-posted on Dose of Reality

At the beginning of the interview process, I had some sense of which programs would be at the top of my rank list*. I also had some ideas about which would be at the bottom. I'd set up a list for myself of programs likely to be in the top 5-6, and programs likely to be in the bottom 5-6, but the middle of the list was a bit of a mystery. Now that I'm through nine of my fifteen interviews, I'm getting a better sense of what I'm looking for in a program, although it's still difficult to make concrete pre-interview predictions. Some things I have learned:

  • As promised by all of the residents and faculty I've talked to, interacting with current residents is really important. Not only do they have a completely unique, insider perspective on the programs, but their personalities and preferences seem to be the best indicators available of what kinds of applicants match at particular programs, and what sorts of people do well there.
  • I'm really glad I'm not couples matching. Applicants who have a significant other (or anyone they want to match with, really, as there is no requirement that you be in any particular kind of relationship) who is also applying to residency this year can choose to link their match lists with that person's. The match algorithm then processes the two lists together so that if Applicant A only wanted to be at Program X if Applicant B were at Program Y, and Program Y isn't an option for that applicant, then the algorithm moves on and looks for a better match. This means that although OB/GYN isn't the most competitive specialty, those applicants who are couples matching with someone in a crazily competitive specialty have to apply and interview to many more programs. The travel is already wearing on me, and I can't imagine having to do more than I already am.
  • The fit and feel of a program are much more obvious after an interview day than I'd expected. I know it sounds dubious, but you really can get a good sense of a program after an informal mixer/dinner with the residents and then an interview day. There are, I'm sure, lots of things that can't come out in that amount of time, or that are intentionally hidden away during interview days, but the personality of a program really does come out quite clearly in that brief interaction. 
I've definitely not finalized my list at this point, as there are still lots of interviews to come, but it's exciting to feel like I'm getting closer.

*For those of you confused about what a "rank list" is, I refer you to a post from May that describes a bit of the match process.

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