28 January 2015

Med School Update: Match Rank Order List

Last year when we were beginning fourth year, I sent out a plea asking for someone to give me the DL on residency applications, interviews, and advice on how, in the world, the match actually works. I got nada in response. That's not true - I received blank stares and well wishes. That should count for something, right?

If you recall, in October Scott applied to ten residencies that he was most interested in, and throughout November and December he occasionally took breaks from his required rotations to interview with the residencies that invited him to visit.

When friends and family asked where we would be for residency next year, I've told them about Scott's list of ten residencies and interviews. Then I described how Scott would rank his list of residencies in order of his preference and the residencies themselves would rank all of the students they would accept into their residency in order of preference. These lists would separately be submitted via the internet. Then magic happens in March, and the computer algorithm would spit out where my husband would receive training for his future career. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) website shows pictures of ecstatic models and names this process "the algorithm of happiness." Really?! I think that's taking it a bit far, but whatever makes you feel good.

Now that Scott has officially submitted his rank order list for residencies on the NRMP site, I have a better understanding of what is going to happen during the match process in March. I've read several articles from residents and doctors about the process, but probably the most understandable explanation came from Scott's school in a PowerPoint slide sent to students.

In my words, aka layman's terms, here is a synopsis of the national resident matching program:
The first part I described above is still true. Each student will apply to and interview with residencies. In these interviews, the students and residencies (residents and faculty have a voice in the decision) have a chance to ask questions to form an idea of whether the residency would be a good fit for the student. Fit depends on the student applicant really - how they prefer to learn and work, what types of procedures they want to perform, if they feel a connection with faculty or current residents as future mentors and colleagues, focus of the residency training, the student's bedside manner and interviewing skills, etc.

Pretty much every interview will end in the student saying "I would love to come train with you next year," and each residency coordinator sending you a thank you card to say how much they enjoyed your visit and hope you stay in touch. It is important to stay in touch with the residencies you plan to include in your rank order list, which means email or call residents and faculty with questions you still have about the residency. The students are not allowed to tell the residents the order of their rank list, and the residencies are not to ask.

Students register for the match often before they've even interviewed. Then in February the rank order lists are due for the MD residency match. This is where the algorithm of happiness makes  difference.

This is how the algorithm works, as it was explained to me. The student will list the residencies they wish to match with, in order 1 - 20 (you can add more to the list for a fee) with one being your favorite residency. The student will want to list residencies that are their favorite but also consider the odds for the residency including the student's name on their rank list. So if the student didn't interview with a residency that they applied to, the odds of that residency including the student's name on the rank order list are slim. Something to keep in mind.

The residency then lists all of the students they would accept into their residency in order of their favorites (not sure if there is a limited number).

Between the February rank order list deadline and the match announcements at the end of March, the algorithm tries to put students into their first choice of residency. This happens if the residency has the student listed on their rank order list of students and if there is a resident position open. If the student wasn't on the residency's rank order list or other students also ranked it high and were listed higher on the rank order list, the algorithm would then move on to the students second choice and goes through a similar process. In theory, the algorithm is supposed to connect the most student applicants with their first choice of residency.

Clear as mud?

The long and the short of it, is that we'll announce in the end of March where Scott will be training for the next three years. Booyah!

07 January 2015

Regular Ol' Update

Should anyone besides my parents still read my blog, I thought it was probably about time I posted an update other than one of the medical school variety.

Over the last few months I've been asked a lot what I do now that I'm finished with my master's degree and don't need to attend evening classes. In June, right after I graduated, I was happy to tell everyone that I was taking a well deserved break to relax and read fiction. That excuse has kind of worn out, though I'm still kicking back reading my fiction. Now when people ask, they add in their minds the time I'm not in class as well as the time I'm not spending with my husband, since he is constantly away on medical school rotations (we are together 10 weeks total this academic year). Kickin' back in my quiet apartment, listening to the frogs outside, watching Downton, and reading Outlander somehow makes me sound less productive six months following graduation.

I should add that I am actively involved in the Young Women's program at my church, which keeps me busy on Tuesday nights. I'm also filling in a couple times a month as ward organist. I took a class at BYU-Idaho ten years ago (weird! 10?!) to learn to play the organ, but it is a skill that I have not fully developed. So I try to practice a couple hours a week at the church building, when I can.

You're adding it up in your head, aren't you... After working full time, making dinner for one, taking care of church responsibilities, cleaning a relatively empty apartment to the degree I'm satisfied living in it... that still gives me a good chunk of time to move mountains, so to speak.

I've toyed with several ideas on how I could be more productive with my free time. To be clear, these are ideas... like, wouldn't it be grand to learn how to alter clothing. Or, maybe taking a fitness class would be better than occasionally doing a workout video at home. I'll ponder on this some more while I read my fiction.

Scott was able to come home for Christmas break. Actually, it was kind of a forced vacation from the school, because there weren't any other rotations available for him during that time. Not that I'm complaining. Having him home, meant two more weeks this year that we'll be in the same city together. It meant watching Into the Woods (squeal!) together on Christmas Day. We also went on a super fancy date for the first time in forever. Merry Christmas from my colleague! Pretty sure the last time we went to a three-dollar-sign restaurant on a date was well before we were married.

We're so fancy... you already know.

In other news, I am in the exact same job as before. Another frequently asked question I receive, that goes something like this, "Didn't you get your MBA? Didn't you want to do something with that?" My degree focused in supply chain management and operations, which is something I thought would only be applied in my career theoretically, as in using principles of logistics to be more efficient. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter and would love to explore a career in humanitarian logistics. This would probably require overcoming a hurdle of an entrance into a field of experts, being located in a major metro, as well as being flexible to travel on a moment's notice. Not exactly the perfect fit for our current last-year-of-medical-school situation.

Not to mention that I have loved my current employer. Not only have I learned about foundation operations and fundraising from one of the best institutions, but the benefits and colleagues are incomparable. With our top three residency choices existing outside of Oregon, I have only a few remaining months with my current employer. Would I have liked to add a new job title and responsibilities to my resume following graduation? Absolutely! We'll just have to save that adventure for another city, another time.

As for this medical adventure: three more months until THE MATCH,  four more months on rotation, and five more months until graduation.

The countdown has begun.