how to read residency match info from schools

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by mattie113, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. mattie113

    mattie113 totally awesome

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    at each interview i recieve a match list from the 2002 class... how do i effectively read this to determine how "good" the program is? is it true that the best way to gauge a program is to review the match information. thanks! :confused:
     
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  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    I always figured that while match information is useful, it is less so if it doesn't tell me how many students matched to their top choices. For example, Podunk U may match no one to Optho - but if no one bothered to apply/or was interested, then it doesn't necessarily mean that Podunk U sucks.

    If you have a field of interest, it might behoove you to see how many students from School X match into that specialty - ie, is there faculty at that school that can help you get where you want to go.

    But in the end, the REAL difference in matching will be YOU - no school can make up for poor board scores, poor LORs, etc. You can go to the worst medical school in the country and still match in Derm, and likewise you can graduate with honors from the best medical school and still not match. Choose the school you like best, feel most comfortable in and you will do fine.
     
  4. ana

    ana Senior Member

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    The missing information from a match list is what percentage of people got their top 3 picks. This is just a rough guide, many people will deliberately list the programs that they felt good about during the interview high (and they may rank a more prestigious program low because they feel they will not get in) -- it's a psych stuff, if someone likes you, you will like them too.

    You can look to see where (as opposed to how many) people matched in the more competitive specialties like derm, rads, neurosx, ent, etc. It's true that if no one applied, then it will not be listed. But it would be unusual for a school to not match at least one-third to half the class (as has been the trend in most recent years) in non primary care fields. Look to see where these people went... would you be happy there in terms of geography?

    Also telling is how many of the class went unmatched and had to scramble and how their percentage ranks nationwide. Don't be fooled by matches with preliminary positions -- ask specifically about categorical matches.

    The schools have all this information (mine did), but they can be selective about what they choose to share with candidates. Be polite AND politic when you ask about this information -- never put them on the defensive. Remember that you need them more than they need you. No matter how poorly a school has done in a match year, they will still fill all their seats by the first week of the school year. By comparison, at least half of med school applicants will end up without placement at the end of the application cycle.

    Best wishes, ana
     
  5. mattie113

    mattie113 totally awesome

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    thanks for the info, both of your replies were very helpful. i wonder if i could add to my initial question: i am curious about the possibility that student loan debt might push grads into subspecialties... i have noticed a correlation between two very good schools with vastly different tuition costs and the match lists.
     
  6. ana

    ana Senior Member

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    The AMCAS was conducting surveys as to whether your observations were true in general. I don't know if their study is finished (if someone knows, can you post info...), but you can try doing a search with "debt burden" and "specialty choice" as key words.

    My biased observation is that it does affect specialty choice, but no more or less than other issues do. Also, compensation is in fact a legitimate concern -- if you have elderly parents with no retirement pension, already have children, have a spouse who chooses to stay at home, etc, then the issue is a legitimate one.

    Salary is just one of the many factors that most med students take into account. They also consider (among other things) lifestyle, competitiveness of the residency (some people do not have geographical flexibility as to where they match), the possibility for fellowships, aptitude, level of patient contact, technical skills involved, and potential to maintain professional growth and interest over a lifetime. If someone were given the choice between two specialties that were equal in these respects, it's possible he/she would choose the one that compensates more, especially if there was already a pre-existing financial obligation in addition to a huge student loan.

    Are there people around who ONLY consider money? Sure, and these are people who end up being bitter because they choose the wrong specialty.

    IMHO, if you truely want to be in a specialty that is on the low end of the salary, you should choose that specialty if it is what your heart wants. Otherwise, you may end up doing a 2nd residency later in life (when it will be more inconvenient) to correct that mistake. By the way, even at the lowest end of the pay scale, you will be making more money than 99% of the world's population. It's good to keep things in perspective.

    Best wishes, Ana
     
  7. mattie113

    mattie113 totally awesome

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    once again, thanks for the input :D
     
  8. Celiac Plexus

    Celiac Plexus Senior Member

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    Match lists are impossible to interpret. Consider that the most important factoid is how many students matched into one of their top 3 choices. That generally is a good indicator overall.

    However, the quality of the programs being ranked is also important. At a top-ranked school for example, the students will generally be picking from extremely competitve programs. Therefore, at Harvard a student may get his 5th choice which theoretically would be unimpressive, except for that the 5th choice of a Harvard student is still probably way better than the 5th choice of a Meharry grad.

    The best way to interpret these lists IMHO is to look at the quality of the programs that students matched into. Unfortunately this is fairly useless advice since no one can possibly be that knowledgable about every program in every field, especially as a college senior on the interview trail.

    A good general strategy for those of you applying to med school is to ignore match lists completely. In fact, ignore rankings, reputation etc... Pick the schooll based on how comfortable you think that you will be there. How comfortable you are will have a big impact on your performance in medical school, which will in turn affect your career choices way more than any single other factor.

    Peace.
     
  9. ny skindoc

    ny skindoc Senior Member

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    After looking at many match lists from a broad range of schools,I will say that once you get past the top 10-15 rated med schools(for what thats worth) they are very similar in quality.In looking at the Columbia list almost the entire class went to truly top level hospitals with many matches in very competitive places,ie 2of 3 matches in optho were at johns Hopkins-Wilmer.this is a similar story for Duke,Penn and a few others.For most of the rest of American med schools (about 115) the lists are more similar than different.Look at the list for New York Medical College..not a highly ranked school ....the match list is very strong! With many california programs and 3 in Rads at Columbia and Cornell.Between places like Temple,Jeff, Tulane,the SUNYs,GWU etc and many other state schools... other variables will determine the success of the graduates ... I would agree dont focus too much on the match lists.But see mcwmd.com and judge for yourself
     
  10. mattie113

    mattie113 totally awesome

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    that makes sense- but since the schools i am comparing fall withing the "top 15", (based on my strict usnews rankings, an unfortunate byproduct of my general unawareness) how do you propose to judge amoung the top 15 then?
     
  11. Thewonderer

    Thewonderer Senior Member

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    There is no difference among the top 15 med schools. There is also no difference among schools in the next tier (i.e. those with some national reputation like NYU, U of Pittburgh, Rochester, etc.).

    Forget about reading the matchlists. It is a total waste of time.
     
  12. Bikini Princess

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    I think it's strange that schools don't separate general medicine from categorical medicine on their match lists.

    It's kind of equivalent to something like mixing neurology & neurosurgery, since one is pretty competitive and the other is not. Oh well, i guess it's just another limitation of the match list. =)
     
  13. ny skindoc

    ny skindoc Senior Member

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    I'm not clear whats meant by the term "General Medicine" Most match lists I'v seen do separate Preliminary Medicine from "Internal Medicine" which are usually the catergorical matches.There are also programs in "primary medicine" which has more of a focus on outpatient medicine but these are much fewer in number.Unlike preliminary positions in Surgery which have many empty positions for the asking, "preliminary medicine" is often much more competitive than categorical slots depending on the hospital.There are fewer of them and the people looking for them are also those applying to Derm,Optho,Radiology etc..in other words a very competitive applicant group.
     

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