Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Match

Well the interviewing process is nearly over for me, though most of my friends still have the bulk of their interviews coming up. I deliberately front-loaded my interview schedule in order to minimize the probability that I will be out of town when little Hobbes comes to the world. That having been said, I will be traveling for 5 of the 15 days before he is officially due, so we'll be crossing our fingers.

I know there are readers of this blog who are not directly related to a doctor, medical student, or resident, and are thus unfamiliar with the Match. (For those of you who are, please skip and go here for something more diverting) I will offer a brief explanation of an event which will determine our location and fate for the next 4 years.
During the fourth year of medical school, students interview for various specialties. Some hedge their bets and interview in multiple specialties, but most interview for residency spots in what they want to do for the rest of their professional lives. For me, that would be anesthesia. I don't enjoy clinic and rounding, so being in the OR with sleeping patients is great.

At the end of the interview season, both applicants and programs draw up a list of who they want or where they would like to go, based solely on personal preference. The Match (yes, it is capitalized) is administered by the NRMP, which is a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner Disney Microsoft Halliburton. Programs rank applicants and submit that list electronically to the NRMP. Similarly, applicants submit their lists to the NRMP. Sometime between Feb 23 and Mar 13, a computer crunches the lists and assigns applicants to their respective slots. Here is an example of how the match algorith works:

Rajiv has applied to 5 different programs for general surgery (he is a nut for doing so).

Rank List:
1. Stanford
2. Hopkins
3. Yale
4. Mass General
5. Mayo

The computer looks at #1 stanford and compares it with stanford's list. Let us pretend that Stanford has 4 spots and Rajiv is ranked at number 5. Initially he does not get a spot at Stanford, so the computer proceeds down the list to Hopkins. Rajiv is 4th of 6 on Hopkin's list, so he has a tentative match. So why don't programs only rank the number of slots they have? simple, because not everyone who interviews at Hopkins or Stanford wants to go there. So, lets look at Stanfords list:
1. Ron
2. Joe
3. Bill
4. Kyle
5. Rajiv
6. Heather
If ron and Joe don't want to go to stanford, then really Stanford's list is:
1. Bill
2. Kyle
3. Rajiv
4. Heahter,
5.etc....
Since Rajiv was only tentatively placed at Hopkins, if Bill and Kyle wind up elsewhere, then Rajiv can actually wind up at Stanford, despite not being in the initial top 4 applicants on their list.

The match is allegedly skewed to favor the applicants, if they rank strictly according to preference. For some reason it takes a month from when the match lists close for applicants and programs until when they finally announce the verdict on March 17, 2011.
I'm not sure why that is, because I would think that even a computer with modest capacity like my trusty MacBook could crunch all those numbers in a matter of hours.

Your homework, dear readers, is to make my rank list for me, based on whatever criteria you choose:
Here are the candidate programs, in no particular order:
1. Michigan
2. Medical College of Wisconsin
3. Dartmouth
4. Washington University
5. Virginia Mason Hospital
6. Cleveland Clinic
7. Case Western Reserve
8. University of Utah
9. St Louis University
10. Mayo Clinic
11. University of Wisconsin

2 comments:

Mhana said...

My pleasure. I will also justify my choices.

1. Michigan -- close to camp, I have friends that live there that could become YOUR friends.
2. Mayo clinic -- close to camp, I know you want to go there, there was a cute youtube video about an old couple playing piano in their lobby.
3. University of Wisconsin -- close to camp, could be fun.
4. St. Louis University -- moving sucks, trust me trust me trust me. Stay put. Plus I find it more convenient for visiting grammy.
5. Washington U Like SLU, but mildly different
6. University of Utah -- I like the idea of you living closer to us, but have grave concerns about you becoming Utahns. Mindy will start poofing her hair and you'll change Gunner's name to Talmadge Hinckley, I just know it.
7.Medical College of Wisconsin -- never heard of it.
8. Virginia Mason Hospital -- they'll probably make you join their brotherhood and wear funny clothes and have funny rituals. Everyone knows the masons are behind every conspiracy.
9. Dartmouth -- it sounds snotty. If I ever see you in an Ivy league hoodie, I will punch you.
10. Cleveland Clinic -- don't go any place where the rivers catch on fire.
11. Case Western Reserve -- this definitely sounds like you will be working for the meat packing industry. While you might get unlimited supplies of beef, I don't like beef very much. It is bad enough going to trade school, without ending up like Jurgis Rudkus. For crying out loud, his child died in a puddle and his friend got turned into a can of lard. Stay away from the meat packing industry.

cfg said...

I favor Wash U as number one so you will be near Grammy for 4 years. Then 2. Mayo 3. Michigan 4 Wisconsin, 5 Utah, 6 Virginia Mason 7 Case 8 MCW 9 Cleveland 10 SLU 11 Hahvahd