Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by guavero, Apr 30, 2002.

  1. guavero

    guavero Member

    Apr 25, 2002
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    What exactly is a matchlist and how does it work? I am totally clueless to the US health system :) I'd appreciate if you can fill me in. Thanks!

    El Tico
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  3. Doctora Foxy

    Jan 28, 2002
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    Medical Student
    Each medical school has a list of where their 4th year students will do their residency, and it is known as a match list. :) I think 4th years rank the hospitals/programs they are interested in and in March, the programs and students will be "matched."
  4. katiep

    katiep Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2001
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    From the Medical Education FAQ:

    The Match is a way to bring together residency applicants and residency programs in an organized fashion. After applying to and interviewing at various residency programs in their specialty of choice, students submit a "rank order list" which specifies their preferences for programs in numerical order. Residency programs submit similar lists. After all of the lists have been received, a computer matches applicants and programs. At noon Eastern time, on a fateful day in March of each year, all applicants across the country receive an envelope telling them where they will spend the next several years.

    Controversy has surrounded the Match algorithm in recent years, due to a slight preference for residency programs in a very small percentage of cases. The algorithm has since been changed to favor applicants' preferences.

    There are several books about residency and the Match. "First Aid for the Match" by Tao Le, et al., and "Getting into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students" by Kenneth Iserson, MD, provide insights about how to prepare for the Match.
  5. Winged Scapula

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

    Apr 9, 2000
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    Attending Physician
    Some will tell you that looking at the "Match List" is a good way to ascertain the quality of the medical school and its residency placements. However, simply looking at the list blindly tells you nothing about WHERE and WHAT the applicants applied for - for example, it would be wrong to assume that a school doesn't "match well" if few of its students match into a competitive specialty, say Plastic Surgery or Ortho. Without knowing HOW MANY students TRIED to obtain such positions you don't know whether they didn't match or didn't try to. Location may also be affected - some schools tend to attract locals who prefer to stay locally for residency.

    IMHO, it is more useful to know what percentage of students got one of their top choices for residency.
  6. dingiswayo

    dingiswayo Senior Member

    Nov 5, 2001
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    Kimberlee has a good point. You'll never know how "well" students match from a school unless you know what those students wanted.

    However, I would say that if you are evaluating a match list, you should look for THREE things: matches in competitive programs (eg. internal medicine at Mass General is obviously more competitive than internal med at Northwest Idaho Community Hospital), numbers of matches in competitive specialty (eg. derm, ENT, etc.), and percentages of first choice matches.

    Unfortunately, there are problems with each of these criteria:
    (1) For "competitive programs"--it's hard to know what programs are most desirable. USNews doesn't rank residency programs (yet... thankfully). Often you can't judge a residency program by the "brand name" of the university. Also, locations and lifestyles can play a big role in how applicants rank these programs. So what might be attractive to a 4th-year medical student might not be obvious to the pre-med looking over a match list.
    (2) For "competetive specialties"--we know which ones are hard to get, but, as kimberlee pointed out, not every medical school class is full of students who want to be dermatologists. So just looking at numbers of matches in competetive specialties can be misleading. If few students want to go into competitive specialities that year, then this statistic is artificially low.
    (3) For "percentage getting their first choice"--the problem is the reverse... If 40 students at a medical school apply for psychiatry, a lot more of them will get their first choice than if 40 students apply for neurosurgery. So, if a lot of students want to go into less-competitive specialties, this statistic is artificially high.

    Bottom line: do your best to get a feel for how students match, but don't get too bogged down in the details. And don't base your entire decision between two schools on small differences between match lists.

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