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Rank List Crazy Talk - "Ranking" the SOAP in Your Top 5

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by DrBloobs, Feb 17, 2012.

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  1. DrBloobs

    DrBloobs

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    IMG here, half-seriously considering making the SOAP one of my top choices in this year's match. I can't help thinking that it might actually be a good -- if not brazen and perhaps foolish -- idea. The thought process:

    - Some pretty good programs go unmatched in past years. Last year saw solid programs in Chicago, Massachusetts, and D.C. go unfilled. Most of those programs don't generally open their doors to IMG's so this might be the only way in.

    - This year maybe even more programs will go unfilled. There's a lot of talk this year about how many interviews even the very top AMG candidates are going on. I feel like more than half the American applicants I ran into on the trail were interviewing at more than 10, several at upwards of 15. With a lot more interview slots eaten up by an increasingly neurotic --though still incredibly likely to match at one of their top 2 or 3 -- applicant pool, the trickle down may mean more programs will be surprised to learn that they didn't interview enough to fill their spots.

    Is anybody familiar with the scramble/SOAP mentality among programs directors? Will programs that ordinarily ignore IMG's be more open to one? Especially if that one has great board scores, great grades, great letters, and is a U.S. citizen.

    Don't get me wrong, really like my top 4 or 5 programs. But when things start getting blah and the cons start outweighing the pros a certain distance down the rank list, I started thinking crazy things.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Bartelby

    Bartelby

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    Making the SOAP one of your "top five" would just mean not ranking more than four schools. The problem with that is obviously if the SOAP goes badly, there is no going "lower on the list."

    I guess you have to weigh these things for yourself. How much do you hate your #5 - whatever programs? Is it worth giving up a spot at one of those to gamble on a scramble into a great program? If one of the big programs doesn't fill, how likely are you to get that spot? Are you okay with the very real possibility of matching somewhere significantly worse in the scramble, or of not matching and having to do all of this over again?

    Personally I say rank every school you interviewed at unless you would rather not match than attend the program. I would be interested to see if anyone here would endorse ranking very few places in hopes of having to scramble, and if so what made them decide the benefits outweighed the obvious risks.
  3. Shufflin

    Shufflin

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    I once met an international student who was trying to scramble into a family medicine spot. She ran into 2 huge hurdles: 1. the number of open spots were far less than what she had anticipated that year, and 2. those programs with open slots were ignoring her phone calls because they already had their favorite candidates. Why? Because AMGs who don't match have their school deans get on the phones and make calls for them which carries much more weight than you calling them. At my school, our deans contact program chairs and are already in talks with them before you can blink twice so that everybody ends up in a residency program. So I think "politicking" is more at play during SOAP/scramble than you might want to face. If you thought the normal match was competitive, you might be in for a big surprise. It sounds like a terrible position for an international student to be in, and she did not end up matching.
  4. splik

    splik

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    Erm UIC to which you refer is full of IMGs most of whom get in through the match, I believe the residents who scrambled in are actually americans. Georgetown is usually full of IMGs as well. BU and GWU filled their spots in the scramble with US students, not IMGs.

    Many of these programs will filter out during the SOAP on whether you are an IMG as the majority of applicants in the SOAP will be IMGs, and many will be those who aren't even interested in psychiatry as a top choice. These easiest way to make the numbers manageable is to screen out IMGs.

    If you're not a competitive applicant, you're not suddenly going to become so during the SOAP.

    You would do well to rank as many programs that you feel you could cope being at. Do not rank anywhere you really would not want to go.
  5. DrBloobs

    DrBloobs

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    Thank you all. I think I was looking for reasons to give up on what I knew was a pretty outlandish plan. Appreciate all the good reasons to give second thought.

    My biggest question was whether the scrambled spots were open to IMG's. I think you've confirmed my suspicion.
  6. splik

    splik

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    It will be interesting to see what happens this year as phone calls, emails etc are banned and you are not allowed to have others contact programs on your behalf. Both are violations of the SOAP. But how do you police it? It is supposed to make things 'fairer' but I don't think it will.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  7. pysch4sure

    pysch4sure

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    Imagine you're on a speed date talking to a bunch of ladies (you're a man in this scenario). You get your flirt on, have a couple of drinks, and at the end of the night everyone makes a list of all the people they clicked with. You rank them in order, and the ladies ultimately choose which man they end up with (I realize this is a hetero-centric and sexist scenario, but please bear with me)

    Now let's say you are at a place where that the number of women hasn't gone up for years, and the number of men continues to climb such that women are greatly outnumbered. So then, you're on a speed date in China, got that?

    Understanding this scenario, does it make sense that you'd have Tricia Helfer in the corner by her lonesome? Sure, there are going to be some ok ladies left over, but there's probably good reasons why a balding, ugly Trekky (ie me!) did not want to rank her.

    To make matters worse, the Brad Pitt lookalike convention is in town, and although you're not ugly, you know you can't match their good looks and charm. You're in the middle tier, at best, so the pool of ladies you can realistically attract is decreased.

    If you had to chose someone to go on a 2nd date with, does it make more sense to pick from a list of ladies who you at least met once, talked with, got to know, etc, or would you rather take a chance on the leftovers that no-one else wants to talk to who you've never met?

    That's what the scramble is: dehumanizing, debasing and awful. Just like a blind date.

    Hopefully my scenario above explains why your logic is flawed IMHO. I implore you do NOT think of the best case scenario; instead, plan for the worst. I am only a med student, but in a former life I used to help AMGs with the scramble. And the scramble was very stressful for them: it will be 100x worse for you, I don't care what your board scores are. You didn't go to medical school here in America, so you especially should not be dreaming up best case outcomes.

    I'm not trying to insult you. I have seen what the this process can do to a person, and it's awful. The whole reason why we have the match is to avoid the uncertainty of SOAP, or whatever name you'd prefer to the more aptly-named 'scramble'. You are gambling quite a lot.

    Yes, you are thinking crazy things!

    Look at the NRMP website for the match stats. As an independent applicant, you should be ranking way more than 4 places to assure that you match.

    Think of it this way: you probably didn't want to go abroad for medical school, right? You didn't get accepted here in the US, but you were so dedicated to being a physician that you didn't let that stand in the way, and you did fantastic on boards. It sounds like you did just fine in medical school and i'll bet you'll be a fantastic doc. So try to think the same way about residency: a place is better than no place. Those other students you talked about who interviewed at 10 places weren't being neurotic, they were smart. Play it safe!

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  8. peppy

    peppy Senior Member

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    :thumbup: :clap: Having gone through the scramble myself, I wholeheartedly agree.
    It was literally one of the worst things that has ever happened to me (no, not the very worst, sure, but top 3). MAYBE the SOAP format will make things better, but consider that there is a good chance that during the first effort there may be some "bugs to work out". Remember that last year the ERAS/NRMP computer systems crashed and a huge number of people couldn't even see the list of scramble programs until it was too late, while the spots went to people who had "connections" or could get the list from their med school). I wouldn't want to count on something so unpredictable.

    Another factor to consider is that every year, some of the really good candidates out there end up not matching for one reason or another (over-confidence, awkward interview skills, only ranking top programs, etc.) So it's not like everyone who ends up scrambling is some bottom of the barrel candidate. You'll still be competing with strong candidates and for all you know there may not really be many spots to choose from. The year I scrambled, the number of open spots was in the single digits across the entire country and of the ones that were listed, some of them were not "real" spots (when I called the programs, they said they were not looking to fill the spot in the scramble).
    Things worked out for me in the end, but I strongly advise matching the normal way if you can.
  9. DrBloobs

    DrBloobs

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    Again, thanks for the perspectives.
  10. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow

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    Wow...I'm getting old because I don't even know what SOAP is other than a SOAP note.
  11. pingouin

    pingouin just chillin' Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    Eh, this is the first year for it. So we only know a little about it, and we all hope we don't have to use it.

    (It's a system that replaces the traditional scramble.)
  12. pysch4sure

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    Well said Sir. This is EXACTLY what I saw in my former job: students who thought they were hot s**t and had match lists copied straight from US World & News. I saw people with 2-4 places ranked. !!!! It works out for a lot of people, but for the love of Kahless, why risk it?

    Don't let that interview(s) at whatever top name place(s) get to your head. Just to reiterate what Peppy said: the vast majority of people who don't match aren't retarded, they're just stupid (over confident).

    I hope I don't offend you Peppy, it sounds like you'd fit with the latter :)
  13. psychphan

    psychphan

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    Just out of curiosity, does anyone have a list of programs that had spots available in the scramble last year? I remember hearing that UIC and USC Palmetto both didn't fill last year, and people were excited about that cause they are both desirable programs. Anyone know the other programs that participated in the scramble?
  14. splik

    splik

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    As mentioned about - UIC, BU, GWU, Georgetown and also Advocare Lutheran, UMass, Jackson, Wright State, Temple, Tennessee, JPS, UT San Antonio, WVU, UW-Idaho, and also Hopkins (triple board) and UCLA-NPI (research track).

    USC-Palmetto had 4/6 unfilled last year with GWU and Georgetown trailing behind with 3 unfilled and UIC with 2 unfilled.

    Most places are quite careful to not go unfilled again which usually involves making prematch offers and ranking more candidates. Research track positions usually get cut in the scramble, and there are so few candidates that is why they can go unfilled. Stanford was consistently unable to fill their research track which is probably why they got rid of it.

    Unfilled spots can of course be flukes but sometimes they indicate something else...more will be revealed in 'programs to avoid' thread....
  15. psychphan

    psychphan

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    Thanks for the info. Where did you find that, was that information publicly available?
  16. belle54321

    belle54321

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    Just google "unfilled residency positions 2011". You will find a list with unfilled position in all specialties that participate in nrmp.
  17. myPsychAlt

    myPsychAlt mailing bobcats

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    Just to clarify, most of the UIC foreign grads are research track, most of whom were pre-matched. And unfortunately, UICs problem was a similar problem as some applicants, they posted a very short applicant rank list, and it cost them. (I'm not sure they actually ranked any IMGs in the match last year, but I doubt that such a thing will happen again given last year's shenanigans and the fact that pre-match is going away soon).

    Plus, the last thing I'd want to go through in the "new scramble", the first time for anything to happen is a good invitation for something to be a clusterf-ck.
  18. Jlearner33

    Jlearner33

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    That was me. (sorry)

    and i agree with above posters. last thing you want is a big CF when you could've just matched.

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