A pathology match day related poll

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What choice on your ROL did you match at?

  • First choice (Congrats!)

    Votes: 21 51.2%
  • Second choice

    Votes: 5 12.2%
  • Third Choice

    Votes: 4 9.8%
  • Fourth Choice

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Fifth choice or higher

    Votes: 5 12.2%
  • I didn't match and had to scramble

    Votes: 1 2.4%
  • I took a spot outside the match

    Votes: 5 12.2%

  • Total voters


Moderator Emeritus
20+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2003
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I saw this on another area and thought it would be interesting to see - this will perhaps help those who keep asking how competitive pathology is. So, click the poll number, which choice you matched at. This one is REALLY anonymous, so you have no excuse to not answer. No one will even know you were here....I'll start us off.

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Great idea! MSIV's please participate!
So, what do the results of this poll tell us? It looks like about half of applicants get their top choice, the other half it is a bit of a struggle. Perhaps we can get one of those losers who love to debate the USNews ranking to determine whether the people who got their top choice were from "better" med schools.

What I think it means: Pathology can be a tough field to match in if you are aiming for a topflight program, but for top candidates, the ball is mostly in your court (to use a pathetic sports cliche). Pathology does also seem to me to be somewhat self-selective. Programs and applicants that are the best fit somehow seem to find each other. It also suggests, for those applying in the future, that you need to think long and hard about what program you put #1, because you might actually have to go and train there! And conversely, to think about your programs below #1, because you might have to go there too!

This also assumes that people who vote on this poll are telling the truth, which I think is a big "if." And it assumes that the people voting on this poll are 2004 pathology match applicants, not Pediatrics folks or Ophtho folks who misfired on the pulldown menu and picked pathology by mistake, saw the poll, ignored the title, and voted anyway.

Or silly premed people who think messing up other peoples' surveys is, like, the freaking funniest thing ever and wicked pissah.

Or former path matchers who, for nostalgia reasons, similar to those still fighting the civil war, decided to vote on the poll even though they didn't match this year.
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Originally posted by yaah

What I think it means: Pathology can be a tough field to match in if you are aiming for a topflight program,

Is there a specialty(besides Fp where program quality is impossible to quantify) where it isn't hard to match into one of the top programs?

(agree with the analysis in general)
You're right of course (I think). But I have heard so many people say that path isn't a tough match, blah blah blah. I think that's a bit oversimplifying it. I don't know whether it is more difficult to match a tough program in path than in Anesthesia or whatever. It really doesn't matter, unless you are deciding which field to pursue based on which one gives you the best chance at matching at a certain hospital, which would be beyond pathetic.

People in medicine (especially students and premeds) tend to overgeneralize.

There are so many good programs out there though, the best for some will not be the best for others (like me and Brigham).
Originally posted by yaah

People in medicine (especially students and premeds) tend to overgeneralize.

Overgenerally speaking, that is.

Couldn't resist. ;)
I also think that there are a few other reasons why matching in one's top choice in pathology might be tougher than one might think:

1) Many programs are TINY. The sizes of the programs I applied to ranged from only 1-5 spots. Any time the competition is for one or two spots, many people will be sweating bullets over that, no matter how stellar an applicant they are, and no matter how much encouragement they get from the PD.

2) Of course there's always the "big name", "top program" jazz mentioned above. And of course that is true for pretty much all specialties, as mentioned above as well.

3) Some programs are tough to match into because they are in a highly desirable location (i.e close to beaches, close to the mountains) Naturally, that also holds true for most specialties, path is not an exception.

I know that was a bit of a tangent. I just really wanted to mention it because I got a lot of funny looks from people when I told them that I was terrified about the possibility of not getting my #1 or #2 pick in the match. They usually said something like: "Huh? Why? You're going into PATH!" What these people didn't realize is that there were only two spots at my #1 choice and only four at my #2. Both were in a geographic location that is considered by many to be desirable. So, I felt that those two factors kind of upped the ante for me, and I never felt that matching at one of my top choices would be a sure thing.

So anyway, my point is that although path in general is a relatively noncompetitive match, there are a lot of other factors that come into play, depending on the program you are interested in. (Just like any other specialty!)

Just my .02