Monday, June 8, 2009

Residency Match

So my main experience with being married to a medical spouse is that for the most part, I had no idea what I was in for. Year by year it seems like I don't know whats going on until we get there. And as a planner, I hate not knowing what is going on. I spend much of my time trying to find out what happens next. For that reason I want to explain the whole "Match Process" for any of you MS1 or MS2 spouses out there who are curious as to how it works. I know I was always curious as to the process and my husbands answer was always, "just wait" or "we'll know when we have to do anything." I have also found that most people (who aren't married or related to a medical student) have no idea about the whole process that is involved in "matching" to your residency program. Therefore I am going to take this opportunity to describe the process (based on my understanding).*
The match process begins in July of a medical student's fourth and final year of school. This is when a fourth year gets a password to log-in to the match website. At this time medical students can start entering information into their application. Then in August (the 15th) a students applications can officially be sent to schools. The match website ( is the main site but some programs use, or sends or submits the applications out to the different programs (selected by the applicant). Then usually in October and November the programs send out invitations for interviews. Programs are selective in granting interviews and therefore if an applicant doesn't get an interview they are out of the running for a spot. Medical students can choose to accept or deny these interviews but if they deny an interview, it takes them out of the running. Interviews usually take place in November, December and early January. Interviews usually last at least one day. Often times they are two days; the first evening is a reception and the second day will include a tour and the actual interview. (Some programs invite spouses to the reception - which is a nice opportunity for them to visit the city and learn more about the program). The next step in the process is the rank list.
Starting in January every student will rank the programs they interviewed with. This is another step where an applicant can eliminate a program by not ranking them. At the end of February (the 24th at midnight next year) the rank lists are officially due and must be submitted. All programs will also submit a list ranking their candidates by order of preference. The match process is weighed in favor of the applicants in the sense that the match system will look at a student's list and look to their first pick, if their first pick has them ranked number one they match (or if their program takes six and they are ranked in the top six then they will match there). If a program has a student ranked number one but that student has them ranked five, the match process will first see if that student matches with their top four. This is why it is necessary for all applicants to make sure they rank their programs in order of their preference. All of the matching is done electronically or by computer and it tries to match students to their highest (or lowest if you are referring to numbers) ranked program. Hypothetically the more places a student ranks should increase their chances of matching. Many students will apply to programs across the country. Between the cost of applications, travel and hotels, many students will spend several thousands of dollars on this process. Usually your financial aid office can help you take out special loans to cover the additional expenses.
Then the third Monday in March (the 15th of 2010) students will receive an email informing them of whether or not that matched. Then that afternoon the match program will release what programs still have openings so that the students who did not initially match can "scramble match." This scrambling process happens in a matter of days and results in people matching at programs that they didn't apply to, interview with, or rank. Then later that week, on the third Thursday in March (the 18th of 2010) most schools will host a match day reception where all the students will gather with friends and family. At the reception all students will be handed an envelope which contains their future. They have no idea what it is going to say, it could include any of the umteen (however many) programs they rank. And that's it... nine months of applying, interviewing and worrying and you find out where you are going in an instant.

Residency Match Resources
For those of you who want to know more about residency programs, here is a great website: Freida Online Search . Here is another link of deadlines and dates for this years upcoming match.
*This is just my basic, informal, and lay-person's understanding of the process - do not rely on my statements or representations. Also the process will vary for medical students in the military and those applying for certain specialties such a urology.


Jessica said...

Thank you for your comment. I would love to join doctorswifes! We live on campus at our school, so I have a huge support group of other women who's spouses are also Medical students. Just to put it in perspective we have about 8 families who are also 4th year student, 2 who are now 3rd years, a couple who just graduated and a few who are residents. But I'm next year I won't be so lucky(as we go off to residency), so It would be nice to already have a support network. Thank you for your invite. Where is your husband going to school? keep in touch Jessica

Ashley said...

This was extremely helpful. I feel like I'm in the same 'flying by the seat of my pants' boat when it comes to this whole medical school thing. It's nice to know how things work before we get there. Thanks!!

C and A said...

Love you both! We will be praying for you throughout this process.

Katie said...

Thank you for explaining this process. It sounds just like sorority recruitment to me!! HAHA

Lexi Holzberg Kritzer said...

This is so helpful - thank you! My husband is in his fourth year of medical school, so we're starting the whole process now.
xx Lexi, Glitter, Inc.