I think it totally depends on the program. Also, it shouldn't mean anything to you. Even if your top choice never contacts you, they're still your top choice, right? Worrying about this issue is pointless for me. I like to send them letters.
The only place that actually called me was UMass. They left a message that I didn't return. I am ranking them, but I didn't think it would be appropriate for me to call them back. It was a very 'provocative' message. Kind of a 'you scratch our back and we'll scratch yours' thing. I have gotten several emails and letters from programs saying 'we're ranking you highly', etc. Unfortunately, only two of these were from places that I really liked and am ranking highly.
MGH - phone call, letter (rumor has it that some people got Fed-ex letters)
B&W - letter
UCSF - letter, some people got e-mails, in previous years ppl got phone calls (but nobody this year?? anyone?)
Stanford - letter
UCLA - letter
That being said, some places probably don't call and others might call everyone (as someone suggested about MGH).
I completely agree with the folks who say rank where you want to go, not the places that call you ....
but for those that have to know. In no particular order.
MGH- letter, phone call (letter NOT by fedex, carrier pigeon or any other particularly impressive mode mail delievery)
UCSF - letter, e-mail
Hopkins - e-mail, more e-mail
Cornell - phone call
Stanford - letter, e-mail, phone call
B&W - letter, phone call
UVA- letter , e-mail
U Washington - e-mail
OHSU - letter, e-mail
Keep in mind, I'm sure a bunch of these letters and e-mails were form type letters sent out in bulk and some of them were much more glowingly positive than others. In other words, I wouldn't read too much into it.
Good luck everyone. Hope everybody matches someplace they are happy with!
Strangest thing, I received an interview invite at U of Washington and declined to interview there because the program coordinator was taking too long to confirm my interview date so I was unable to make travel arrangement. I was surprised to find one of those "emails" in my inbox. It was sent to me but addressed to another person. So don't feel bad if you did not get a "personal email" in your inbox. There just might have been one sent out to you
What does all this followup jazz mean?? Can somebody analyze this...say a program writes in a letter: "We have ranked you such that it is extremely likely that you will match [here] (i.e. your position would have matched in each of the past 13 years)"...but no phone call or e-mail...vs. another applicant who gets a letter, an e-mail, and a phone call!!