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As I'm getting my school list together for next cycle, I'm taking a look at the match lists at various schools (if they're publicized). When evaluating the strength of the match lists of various schools, what is more important to look at: the types of specialties people are matching at (such as ortho, rad onc, etc) or how many top programs people are matching at (UCSF, MGH, etc)?
 

No Limits

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As I'm getting my school list together for next cycle, I'm taking a look at the match lists at various schools (if they're publicized). When evaluating the strength of the match lists of various schools, what is more important to look at: the types of specialties people are matching at (such as ortho, rad onc, etc) or how many top programs people are matching at (UCSF, MGH, etc)?
Its tough to really evaluate a match list especially when you are still a premed. Here read this thread: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/judging-a-match-list.1038853/
 

TooMuchResearch

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As I'm getting my school list together for next cycle, I'm taking a look at the match lists at various schools (if they're publicized). When evaluating the strength of the match lists of various schools, what is more important to look at: the types of specialties people are matching at (such as ortho, rad onc, etc) or how many top programs people are matching at (UCSF, MGH, etc)?
You can't really judge a match list by program unless you know the top programs in each specialty. Some of the "big names" in EM, for example, are in hospitals that aren't big name medical schools and don't have brand name medicine and surgery programs.
 
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You would also need to know the extent to which people are prioritizing things like geography and family over 'the best' residency or most competitive specialties. When you're in college it's easy to think that of course everyone will be gunning for the best medical school and then the best residency and then the best fellowship. But in reality by the time people hit their mid-twenties priorities will have shifted. Source: myself, a non-trad premed, and friends who were trad medical students recently matched or matching. So basically evaluating a residency list as an outsider to a school is very, very hard.
 

RogueUnicorn

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To be honest, it's hard for me to analyze the match list at my own school and I'm an MS3. I know it's pretty frustrating but it is what it is. One thing that may be of value is to see if there are fields where disproportionate numbers seem to match year after year.
 
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IncognitoGuy

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Also know that match lists vary wildly based on the interests that each person has. Not everybody wants to be Neurosurg/Ortho/ENT/Derm/etc.

So even if you see a match list populated mostly by what people consider to be less competitive specialties, that isn't necessarily reflective of the strength of the school at all.
 
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There have been so many of these lists, and many of the med students on these threads know much more of these topics than I. But is there really nothing to be gathered from a school's match? Wouldn't an applicant, for example, at least like to see some graduates matching into competitive specialities, versus none at all? Would this not be an indicator of a given school leaving more possible doors open ( of course in addition to those such as personal and familial priorities stated above)?

Again I trust the opinions of those that say not much is to be gain from match lists, but I ask these questions as well.
 

slopes23

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There have been so many of these lists, and many of the med students on these threads know much more of these topics than I. But is there really nothing to be gathered from a school's match? Wouldn't an applicant, for example, at least like to see some graduates matching into competitive specialities, versus none at all? Would this not be an indicator of a given school leaving more possible doors open ( of course in addition to those such as personal and familial priorities stated above)?

Again I trust the opinions of those that say not much is to be gain from match lists, but I ask these questions as well.
I have no experience in this so take it with a grain of salt. But I imagine it could be less then helpful as in any given year you could have applicants that got lucky, or just an exceptionally strong class that year, but looking at previous years perhaps they don't have the greatest track record, and it goes the opposite way. Meaning that when looking at only one year or even two years of match programs you don't quite get the whole picture in what is really going on. I am working with someone who went to a school in the Caribbean and did their residency at the Mayo Clinic. If I just used that one data point (like using one year of match list at a school) I would think going to the Caribbean is a great alternative.
 

TooMuchResearch

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There have been so many of these lists, and many of the med students on these threads know much more of these topics than I. But is there really nothing to be gathered from a school's match? Wouldn't an applicant, for example, at least like to see some graduates matching into competitive specialities, versus none at all? Would this not be an indicator of a given school leaving more possible doors open ( of course in addition to those such as personal and familial priorities stated above)?

Again I trust the opinions of those that say not much is to be gain from match lists, but I ask these questions as well.
Doors are open to those with good grades+board scores+personalities. Go to the cheapest school that will take you.
 

mvenus929

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Match lists from a single school aren't terribly useful for the reasons above, but it really comes down to applicant interest. Location plays a big role for some people, but not for others. Other things that may play a role include the size of the program, volume vs teaching faculty, boards pass rates, opportunities for global health, presence vs absence of fellowships in that institution, etc. To say someone matched poorly because they went to a lesser known (to you, as a pre-med) program doesn't mean that they didn't get their first choice.

A couple things you can pull from the match list is how much regional bias there is in the program--if most of the graduates are staying at that medical school for residency, or somewhere close by, then it either means they really don't want to leave, or they aren't as competitive elsewhere (depending on the region). Look at several years of match lists to determine whether someone from that school has matched in an area you'd like to go for residency--you're less likely to match somewhere if the school hasn't sent someone there before.

You can also determine where the general interests of the school lie. Are most people going into family medicine or surgical subspecialties? Again, you should look at multiple years, because one year isn't representative of the school as a whole (at my school, for instance, within the past 3 years we've had a class that was really heavy in the top surgical subspecialties, and a class where there is much more of a primary care influence).

But, this all takes a lot of effort to compare different schools, so it's probably a better use of your time to try to get in contact with a couple of the school's fourth year students, who are currently on the residency trail, and ask them how much support they've had in the application process and getting what they needed to for applications done (research, other ECs, etc). That will tell you more about how invested the school is in their students than a match list.
 

TexasPhysician

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There have been so many of these lists, and many of the med students on these threads know much more of these topics than I. But is there really nothing to be gathered from a school's match? Wouldn't an applicant, for example, at least like to see some graduates matching into competitive specialities, versus none at all? Would this not be an indicator of a given school leaving more possible doors open ( of course in addition to those such as personal and familial priorities stated above)?

Again I trust the opinions of those that say not much is to be gain from match lists, but I ask these questions as well.
Nothing to be had.
 

TooMuchResearch

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I use specialty matches as a baseline. It's more of a problem at DO schools, but you can't tell me that 70% of a class WANTS to do primary care when only 40% of the entire physician population is primary care.
Sure I can. A non-random sample of 100-200 med students doesn't need to approximate the entire MD student pool.
 

mvenus929

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I use specialty matches as a baseline. It's more of a problem at DO schools, but you can't tell me that 70% of a class WANTS to do primary care when only 40% of the entire physician population is primary care.
For the record, a lot of people going into IM and Peds end up subspecializing, which may be a lot of their intentions matching into these 'primary care' fields. Maybe they'd all rather be cardiologists than surgeons.
 

QuantumJ

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I cannot disagree, but at this point I'm really having trouble finding ways to choose between schools/finding the schools that will provide the best opportunities moving forward.
Home program in the field you want. Some schools don't have a residency close by in certain specialties and you'll want to make connections early for lor's and research to be more competitive for residency. If you don't have a field in mind then look for a wide range of specialties.
 

TooMuchResearch

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Doors are open to those with good grades+board scores+personalities. Go to the cheapest school that will take you.
I cannot disagree, but at this point I'm really having trouble finding ways to choose between schools/finding the schools that will provide the best opportunities moving forward.
See above.
 
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Home program in the field you want. Some schools don't have a residency close by in certain specialties and you'll want to make connections early for lor's and research to be more competitive for residency. If you don't have a field in mind then look for a wide range of specialties.
Thanks for the reply. How much would you say the ranking of that program versus others matters? If a school is very good in a specialty of interest, but not as great overall, would that make the school a good destination? And I apologize if I'm overthinking this.
 

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This is a controversial subject. My dean of Clinical Education tells me that "as long as the students are happy with their residency, then it's a good residency". This implies that for the student, Joe's Hospital and Cafe can be equivalent to UCSF!

To my own eyeballs, when I see a good number of my students ending up at state university programs, plus some names like Cleveland Clinic, it impresses me.

I will defer to the clinicians on this one.

As I'm getting my school list together for next cycle, I'm taking a look at the match lists at various schools (if they're publicized). When evaluating the strength of the match lists of various schools, what is more important to look at: the types of specialties people are matching at (such as ortho, rad onc, etc) or how many top programs people are matching at (UCSF, MGH, etc)?
 

TexasPhysician

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This is a controversial subject. My dean of Clinical Education tells me that "as long as the students are happy with their residency, then it's a good residency". This implies that for the student, Joe's Hospital and Cafe can be equivalent to UCSF!

To my own eyeballs, when I see a good number of my students ending up at state university programs, plus some names like Cleveland Clinic, it impresses me.

I will defer to the clinicians on this one.
Examples based on my class:
One male was AOA top 10 in the class. He chose Family Medicine in rural Colorado - his hometown. He could have done anything anywhere.

One female matched at one of the Harvard psychiatry programs (there are 4). 3 Harvard programs are highly competitive. 1 of the 4 struggles to get any American graduates. She matched at the weak one.

One female was AOA top 5 in our class. She went unmatched due to applying ENT at only 2 programs in the city where her fiancé was located. She later specialized in surgery in the same department as her husband now.

One female who was AOA matched Internal Med at a lower ranked California program. She later matched into interventional cardiology at a top program.

If you look at the above 4 people just on the match list, you see 3 applicants that appear weak and 1 that went to Harvard. In truth, you see 3 excellent applicants who are quite happy and 1 applicant who settled at a Harvard program that she would prefer not to be at.

Highly deceptive.
 

scarletgirl777

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Home program in the field you want. Some schools don't have a residency close by in certain specialties and you'll want to make connections early for lor's and research to be more competitive for residency. If you don't have a field in mind then look for a wide range of specialties.
This is an important point but can't be gleaned from a match list. Some schools don't have radiation oncology, anesthesia, dermatology residency programs. This is a disadvantage especially in some of the brand new medical schools that have very few residency programs. When you apply for residency, you need letters from faculty in your field (letters from people outside your field, from the most part, don't really count) which means that you will have to go to another medical school potentially in another city or state, just to make connections and get letters. In the case of schools that don't even have the department, then you will need these away rotations just to figure out if you even like the specialty, and practically this results in these schools graduating very few people who go on to pursue these fields. If you are deciding between medical schools it's a factor worth considering. It is hard to just look for the specialty you are currently interested in because most people change their minds.

In terms of break down in specialties on match lists, there are institutional and regional biases that affect this. State schools, even those in the top 10, tend to produce more people who go into family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics than private schools. Primary care is more respected on the west coast than on the east coast, particularly in major northeastern cities. And the top residency programs in some of the most competitive specialties very often do not match with the top medical schools. Miami is arguably the number 1 ophtho program for example. Another contender is Wills Eye, a program associated with Jefferson. There are some top 10-20 med schools that I won't name that have decidedly average radiology and radiation oncology programs, for example. Obviously, this does not correspond to med school rankings and would therefore be unknown to the average premed.
 
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While people are right that the match list isn't the best indicator, look at schools like Harvard compared to the middle of the pack and tell me that the only difference is student interest/geography.
 
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While people are right that the match list isn't the best indicator, look at schools like Harvard compared to the middle of the pack and tell me that the only difference is student interest/geography.
But the biggest piece of that difference isn't the school itself, it's the people they pick in the first place. Take most of those people out of Harvard and put them in their state school and they'll still match derm if they want to match derm.
 

scarletgirl777

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While people are right that the match list isn't the best indicator, look at schools like Harvard compared to the middle of the pack and tell me that the only difference is student interest/geography.
Of course not. But no one is using a match list to decide that going to Harvard is better than going to a school in the middle of the pack. Most people have already made the determination that Harvard is a better school. Realistically, people who are trying to use match lists to influence their decision are probably going to be looking at a less extreme comparison.
 
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Amygdarya

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You'd also need to know the toxic programs at "big name" institutions that have trouble matching excellent candidates.
It would be very interesting to know which programs these are... although nobody will name them here of course.

I'm just another clueless pre-med but here is my algorithm of evaluating match lists:
- If you're set on a certain specialty, find out which residency programs are considered best for this specialty. Then look at match lists from several years if available to see if there are many/any people matching into this specialty and which residency programs they match into. It may also be a good idea to go to a school associated with a good residency program in the specialty you're interested in.
- If you're not so sure about your future specialty, look at the geographic spread of the matches, as was suggested earlier in this thread (again, over a few years if this information is available). This may give you some clue of whether you'll be limited geographically if you go to that school and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, whether the students hate the school and its associated hospitals and/or the city so much they want to get out of there (i.e. too few matches to the local programs).
Also, if you're not set on a specialty - or even if you are, because you may change your mind once you're in medical school - it's better to go to a school that provides exposure to many different specialties and subspecialties (besides knowing if the school is associated with a major hospital, check out how much clinical elective time it allows and what kind of clinical electives are available).
 

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I think you are too early in your MD journey to really know for sure if current lists will apply to you. I know top hospitals with a good rep that have insanely malignant programs for residents in some areas. Many times a malignant program ends up in probation and has to change PD or close and residents are shoved to random hospitals somewhere else. Programs that are top notch today might suddenly get a batch of bad attendings that don't want to teach and the program starts to suffer. So many things change in 5 years name tagging the best programs is not easy. A hospital will always have differing quality of residency programs because each PD of each area is a different person with different ideals on how to create the best attending.

Many people also choose a specialty because of their interest in a field or the lifestyle challenges of some specialty. You might have a great student from a well ranked university get into an average FM program because she has a family and husband and cannot relocate. Many women have harder choices because they have kids in school and can't simply pack up their bags and move to the other side of the country just because the program has a higher rank in a list. If I had kids, I would prefer to go to a lower tier program instead of relocate to the other side of the country..
 

bear2roo

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just curious for future reference, but how do medical students know which "programs" are malignant when they apply to residency? Is there like an unofficial SDN running list somewhere?
 

TexasPhysician

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just curious for future reference, but how do medical students know which "programs" are malignant when they apply to residency? Is there like an unofficial SDN running list somewhere?
Talk to faculty and classmates applying your field in years above you.

Program chairs, directors, etc. change and make their own impressions on residencies.

My program was not competitive at all about 2 years before I started there, and since it is much more competitive. Many changes made that happen.
 

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It would be very interesting to know which programs these are... although nobody will name them here of course.

I'm just another clueless pre-med but here is my algorithm of evaluating match lists:
- If you're set on a certain specialty, find out which residency programs are considered best for this specialty. Then look at match lists from several years if available to see if there are many/any people matching into this specialty and which residency programs they match into. It may also be a good idea to go to a school associated with a good residency program in the specialty you're interested in.
- If you're not so sure about your future specialty, look at the geographic spread of the matches, as was suggested earlier in this thread (again, over a few years if this information is available). This may give you some clue of whether you'll be limited geographically if you go to that school and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, whether the students hate the school and its associated hospitals and/or the city so much they want to get out of there (i.e. too few matches to the local programs).
Also, if you're not set on a specialty - or even if you are, because you may change your mind once you're in medical school - it's better to go to a school that provides exposure to many different specialties and subspecialties (besides knowing if the school is associated with a major hospital, check out how much clinical elective time it allows and what kind of clinical electives are available).
I'm not so sure that this is the best way of evaluating a match list. A lot of self-selection goes on in choosing location. If you look at the match list for UMass, you find a lot of people staying within New England/New York. I don't think it's because residency programs on the west coast, for example, hold some sort of prejudice against UMass graduates but rather people who go to UMass tend to want to stay within the region. I get the same feeling from other schools that are heavily in-state. USC is another good example where most graduates stay in CA, probably because most of the class is from CA to begin with. The match list from UVM (which is majority OOS) I think tends to show that even if you're coming from a school that isn't really a heavy-hitter you can match anywhere in the country, and as was mentioned earlier, it's not so much the school that hems you into a particular region of the country as it is where you want to go and whether you can come up with a good reason for wanting to go there. The conclusion I gather from the handful of threads on this topic from years past is that matching into a residency you want is mainly due to your own efforts with regional bias and school reputation having a relatively small influence in most places. So, I think as pre-meds, we shouldn't be worrying so much about match lists as we should about just busting our asses to do well in med school so that we can get one our top choices in the match.
 

Catalystik

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just curious for future reference, but how do medical students know which "programs" are malignant when they apply to residency? Is there like an unofficial SDN running list somewhere?
I recall seeing a thread like this in the Internal Medicine subforum, so they may exist for other specialties as well, but keep in mind that programs change over time with new Program Directors and policy changes made due to resident feedback, so only the most recent information will be of any use.
 

sinombre

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I recall seeing a thread like this in the Internal Medicine subforum, so they may exist for other specialties as well, but keep in mind that programs change over time with new Program Directors and policy changes made due to resident feedback, so only the most recent information will be of any use.
To add on to this, don't most places cycle through new program directors every 5 years or so? A frequent turnover of leadership would make evaluating programs that much more difficult.
 

Catalystik

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To add on to this, don't most places cycle through new program directors every 5 years or so? A frequent turnover of leadership would make evaluating programs that much more difficult.
Seems shorter, at least to my limited perspective.
 

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If you were to pick any specialty to look at on a match list, choose internal medicine. The quality of those matches probably correlates best to the overall strength of the match list. Don't judge a match list by the # of ortho, derm, rad onc, etc matches -- matching to those takes lots of foresight and is very self-selecting. Perfectly capable folks at a smaller, less-research heavy institution may not have been exposed to something like rad onc so it's a bit unfair to judge a school based on the # matched there. But internal medicine will be popular at all med schools, so if you see lots of great internal medicine matches that's a good sign.

But, in general, I'd say avoid looking at the match lists with any intention of having it shape your decisions. I've been on residency interviews at lots of solid programs in a fairly competitive specialty and the mix of school representation from the other applicants, from state schools to top private schools, is very diverse.
 

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As I'm getting my school list together for next cycle, I'm taking a look at the match lists at various schools (if they're publicized). When evaluating the strength of the match lists of various schools, what is more important to look at: the types of specialties people are matching at (such as ortho, rad onc, etc) or how many top programs people are matching at (UCSF, MGH, etc)?
It's not important to look at them at all. They tell you next to nothing about how YOU will do and where YOU will match. Also the odds of you knowing what you want to match into and what a "good match" is at this point in your education is zero. I'm applying now and still couldnt tell you what medicine programs are great and which suck because there is no reason for me to know it as I am not applying into medicine.
 

Kaputt

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It's not important to look at them at all. They tell you next to nothing about how YOU will do and where YOU will match. Also the odds of you knowing what you want to match into and what a "good match" is at this point in your education is zero. I'm applying now and still couldnt tell you what medicine programs are great and which suck because there is no reason for me to know it as I am not applying into medicine.
It does help though when PDs are impressed by the quality of their residents who came from your school. This is impossible to measure though, and looking at a match list is a crappy proxy for that. So yeah, it's essentially worthless to look at the match list to aid in the decision-making process.
 
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Do medical schools typically favor their own when it comes to residency programs at that school? I'm asking based on @QuantumJ's comment to pick a medical school with a home residency in your field of interest.
 

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It does help though when PDs are impressed by the quality of their residents who came from your school. This is impossible to measure though, and looking at a match list is a crappy proxy for that. So yeah, it's essentially worthless to look at the match list to aid in the decision-making process.
Depends on the field. Also you have no idea if that was the case behind the match. Plus lets not forget the new numbers game of residency applications which further changes things. Also, by the time you are applying a LOT can change (PDs, a bad resident can ruin that impression, a great one can improve it). I agree that there are trends but as a Pre-med it is nothing worth the time. Go where you will be happy and if where you match is what will make you happy this probably isnt the right field.
 

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Do medical schools typically favor their own when it comes to residency programs at that school? I'm asking based on @QuantumJ's comment to pick a medical school with a home residency in your field of interest.
Most do. It is also easier to get a useful LOR when you have a home program. There is a push by many deans to keep their own students as residents do to the increased number of unmatched applicants.
 

Kaputt

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Depends on the field. Also you have no idea if that was the case behind the match. Plus lets not forget the new numbers game of residency applications which further changes things. Also, by the time you are applying a LOT can change (PDs, a bad resident can ruin that impression, a great one can improve it). I agree that there are trends but as a Pre-med it is nothing worth the time. Go where you will be happy and if where you match is what will make you happy this probably isnt the right field.
Yeah, it does depend on the field and as I said in my post it would be impossible to measure (and a match list would be a poor substitute).
 

Amygdarya

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I'm not so sure that this is the best way of evaluating a match list. A lot of self-selection goes on in choosing location... So, I think as pre-meds, we shouldn't be worrying so much about match lists as we should about just busting our asses to do well in med school so that we can get one our top choices in the match.
I agree with you that there is a lot of self-selection in match lists, and not only in terms of geography. And I'm actually perfectly fine with people disagreeing and finding flaws in my algorithm, because I use match lists more as a confirmation that "oh yeah, if I do my best here, I won't be restricted in what I want to do and where I want to go" than a basis for school selection - in fact, I'm not even sure I've seen match lists of all the schools I interviewed at, let alone all the schools I applied to. But I believe my algorithm for a single specialty is still valid :)
Perfectly capable folks at a smaller, less-research heavy institution may not have been exposed to something like rad onc so it's a bit unfair to judge a school based on the # matched there.
Re: school selection and whether school matters in residency applications:
isn't this a good reason to choose a bigger/more established etc. school? 1) You get exposure to more specialties - you may end up loving a specialty you never even considered before medical school. 2) You can get a nice LOR for that specialty and may have a leg up with your application for your home program.
(just thinking out loud)
 

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I agree with you that there is a lot of self-selection in match lists, and not only in terms of geography. And I'm actually perfectly fine with people disagreeing and finding flaws in my algorithm, because I use match lists more as a confirmation that "oh yeah, if I do my best here, I won't be restricted in what I want to do and where I want to go" than a basis for school selection - in fact, I'm not even sure I've seen match lists of all the schools I interviewed at, let alone all the schools I applied to. But I believe my algorithm for a single specialty is still valid :)

Re: school selection and whether school matters in residency applications:
isn't this a good reason to choose a bigger/more established etc. school? 1) You get exposure to more specialties - you may end up loving a specialty you never even considered before medical school. 2) You can get a nice LOR for that specialty and may have a leg up with your application for your home program.
(just thinking out loud)
You are overthinking this, but I'll humor your thought for a minute. Say you choose the bigger school with a couple extra residency programs. If you are drawn to one of those specialties, it may give you a slight benefit at your home program - assuming you would want to stay there. A bigger school likely has more students which results in less 1:1 time which may result in a worse LOR. This may not help you at other programs. There are thousands of scenarios that you can't plan for.

My point is that any US MD program can get you where you want to go if you put in the effort. Your future is much more dependent on you than your school.

I've seen plenty of people match Top 5 programs coming from med schools that don't even have access to that field.

Choose a med school based on cost, location, teaching style, or any other number of criteria, but I strongly advise match lists to play any part.
 
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Amygdarya

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Feb 14, 2009
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You are overthinking this, but I'll humor your thought for a minute. Say you choose the bigger school with a couple extra residency programs. If you are drawn to one of those specialties, it may give you a slight benefit at your home program - assuming you would want to stay there. A bigger school likely has more students which results in less 1:1 time which may result in a worse LOR. This may not help you at other programs. There are thousands of scenarios that you can't plan for.

My point is that any US MD program can get you where you want to go if you put in the effort. Your future is much more dependent on you than your school.

I've seen plenty of people match Top 5 programs coming from med schools that don't even have access to that field.

Choose a med school based on cost, location, teaching style, or any other number of criteria, but I strongly advise match lists to play any part.
Gotcha, thank you for your response! :)