Sunday, January 18, 2009

More application tips

A few weeks ago a reader had asked me to put up some tips for interviews, but because of my procastination and plain laziness it probably is already too late for that now, since interview season is already close to ending. Instead here is my advice for ranking and the match instead:
  1. Rank only hospitals you can see yourself working in. If you've already concluded you absolutely hate a certain town/hospital and you still rank that place, you may very well end up there if your top choices don't work out. It's really pointless (says me, personal opinion) to work in a place that makes you miserable; 3-5 years isn't exactly a short time. Sometimes it's best to scramble into something else.
  2. Rank them according to how much you like them. And not based on how much you think they like you, or your chances of getting in. If you understand how the match algorithm works, just because you didn't rank a place that is more likely to take you higher does not penalize against you; if your top choice did not accept you, then your next automatically becomes your top choice, and your rank order list carries more weight than theirs. Aim high.
  3. Along the lines of the above, remember everyone has different values and priorities. So, when ranking the program, do consider the big picture. Don't rank a place just based entirely on prestige. Things like quality of life, size of city, location are factors as well that you need to consider, especially if you're going to be far away from home, loved ones and may become homesick. Talk to family; ask them for their opinion.
  4. Pray, PRAY really hard to not get any messages on Unmatch Day. But plan to have easy access to emails and a phone on that day, in case you really do have to scramble and make immediate calls to secure a position. Never done it myself but I've been told open spots disappear by the minute. Do not waste time. Especially if you're in the other side of the world- doesn't matter if it's bedtime; WAKE UP and check your emails for word. Don't wait until it's 8 am your end to start calling.
  5. Though you want to avoid it, being unmatched isn't the end of the world. You can always scramble and though it might not be your top choice, you never know how things may turn out. I know several people who were unmatched, who are now in OB, or GI or some other residency and they're happy doing what they're doing.
  6. At the end of the interview trail (before the dateline for the Rank Order List) do take the time to send written thank-you notes. Maybe not to all the programs, but certainly most. It's a lot more sincere, polite and leaves a bigger impression, than an email. And eventhough you may sooner end up in the Arctic wearing only your boxers, do show some enthuasiasm in your thank you notes and say something positive about that place that invited you for the interview.
(Terminology for non-US applicants/grads, getting into a training program ie Residency involves a long tedious application process that leads to interviews and ends with applicants and programs ranking their choices. Results are made known on Match Day; usually a couple of days before that is Unmatch Day when unmatched applicants are made aware early so that they can try to scramble into any open residency spots)
To all you applicants out there, present and future, Good Luck and Happy Hunting. And keep an open mind about your future. You never know where God decides to put you.


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