How many programs should I apply to?

Discussion in 'Emergency Medicine' started by gman33, Aug 15, 2011.

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  1. gman33

    gman33 Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    So I can't really find any good data on this.

    I'm a pretty average applicant for EM.
    Average Step 1 score, slightly above average clinical grades (I guess).
    A lot of experience before med school (I'm old).

    I want to stay in my home city (Philly) mainly because of my wife.
    There are 7 programs that wouldn't require me to move.
    2 are 4 year programs which are less desirable to me.

    I think ranking about 10 programs gets you into some pretty good odds for matching.

    How many programs do you need to apply to in order to get to that number?
    10, 20, 30, etc.
    My advisor told me to go for about 25 and then decline interviews if I get a good response.

    It seems like a bunch of bs to apply to that many programs, but I want to play the game to make sure I match.

    It will be pretty disruptive to my family if I make them move, but I want to make sure I match at the same time. My wife will move, but she'll be pretty pissed if we have to.

    Any advice is welcome.
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  3. gutonc

    gutonc No Meat, No Treat SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    I'd do 30 or so (it's ~$300 to apply to that many) and see what happens. Remember...applying is the cheapest part of the process. This is not the time to cheap out.

    I'm not sure it's "playing the game) as much as it is "being smart." You don't really know how you stack up against the current crop of applicants and you won't until you start getting invites. Apply, accept every invite you get and then cancel PRN (I'd make sure I had 12+ invites before I took the risk of saying no to anybody but YMMV).

    More pissed than she'd be if you didn't get a job for next year and potentially ruined your chances at matching EM?

    If (FSM forbid) you don't match to one of the 7 or so programs in commuting distance from your house this year, what are the chances you'll match there next year? I can't put a number on it but it's going to be a lot smaller then than it is now. Better to match somewhere than nowhere.
  4. SepulvedaMD

    SepulvedaMD 2+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2010
    This is the part that is getting me. I am in the Midwest, but have my sights on the West. My dilemma is that based on the objective measures, I think I am pretty good. However, I don't know how the numbers skew for west coast schools. I was set on 30 apps, but am thinking about upping to 40 to assume that the West is a too hard to read. The price jumps to 25/app after 30, which isn't huge but gives me pause.

    I am even wondering if I should do more that 14 interviews because I don't want to not be ranked.

    Not sure if this helps...but here it is
    Step 1 >230
    1 clinical honor
    Lots of extracurrics
    little bit of research (EM)
    Assume good letters
  5. gutonc

    gutonc No Meat, No Treat SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Here's the can always add more programs later. So do your 30 and see how things shake out. If you're not getting much love by mid-November, throw a few more shekels at ERAS and see what happens.
  6. K31

    K31 5+ Year Member

    May 10, 2011
    For some data see Charting Outcomes in the Match 2009.

    EM-specific data starts on p57. It breaks down probability of matching based on number of programs ranked, Step scores, etc. It looks like US seniors need to rank ~8 programs to have a 95% probability of matching; 12 ranks gets you to 99% or better.
  7. gman33

    gman33 Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    Thanks. I'm aware of this data, but it doesn't answer my question.
    Trying to figure out how many programs to apply to in order to get to these numbers.
  8. EM_Rebuilder

    EM_Rebuilder Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    I would caution the 'add more later' sentiment...

    You can in fact do so, but I think you discover that MANY programs already have their interview dates filled and simply stop offering. I assue you the program I was at gave little to no consideration to late applications, and according to those in charge, this was pretty common practice elsewhere. I saw the same thing during medical school.

    To the OP.. if you scores are 'average' I would seriously consider applying to upwards of 40-50 programs. It costs some extra money, but in the long run you are talking about 1-2 hours of your time one day to potentially not having the career you want.

    Its MUCH better to get too many interviews and start canceling/declining than to sweat with just a few, or add more programs later and 'hope' they have not filled their interview spots.....

    I agree that the 10-12 interviewed places will allow you to sleep very comfortable at night knowing that you 'should' match at one of them.
  9. SepulvedaMD

    SepulvedaMD 2+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2010
    Thanks for the advice/insight, I think I through the shekels at ERAS up front. So as not to be caught holding the bag.

  10. gman33

    gman33 Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2007
    I totally agree that you are better off applying to too many than too few.
    It's very applicant dependent, but I'd love to see some real numbers on this topic. I think those numbers aren't really available anywhere.

    I'll probably start with the 25 that my advisor told me and go from there.

  11. DocRun1

    DocRun1 2+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2008
    I would also say it does matter where and what kind of programs you are applying too. If you are only applying to programs in desirable locations, I would up the numbers more to the 30-40 range. If you are applying to a fair number of programs in less desirable locations, not just the larger, major city programs, I think 25 is alright.

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