The match is scary

This is going to be a becoming a physician, technicalities about training post. So, if you’re just here for the birthy stuff, it may be a bit wah wah wah to you.

I am freaked out about the match. In a nutshell, the match is when 30,000 applicants compete for 24,000 spot at residencies, all on the same day. There’s a lot of lead up with interviews, rank lists, and the like, and it’s pretty complicated, especially if you throw in the curve ball that I am an osteopathic medical student, so I can compete in either (but not both) match system.

I am sure there is hyperbole and drama every year, but this year, word on the street is that the MD match was very competitive (pdf of advanced data). Obstetrics and gynecology only had 5 open spots left over; out of 1,187 slots, 1,182 were filled by the match. That left 5 slots left over for every unmatched applicant to scramble to fill. There were 1,777 U.S. Seniors who were applicants for those slots. That doesn’t include foreign medical graduates or graduates from previous years. 77.1% of them matched. The other 22.9% had 5 slots to fight over.

I am trying not to look at this as some sort of estimate that if I am in the top 77% of applicants on paper, I will be getting a position. There is a lot more to it than that, including away rotations, interviews, number of places ranked, etc. But, those numbers, combined with people I know with similar experience and scores not matching in obstetrics this year (vomit!), is making me really nervous. I am starting to rethink my list. I am going to expand it and include a lot more community programs, and cities in which I don’t know anyone. And, ulp, I may reconsider the osteopathic match.

I wouldn’t mind living in the New York / New Jersey area. I do have family up there and friends up there. My phys ed coach husband really wants me to try to get a residency at a place with a moderate climate. But, I could live in Brooklyn. Easily. There are lots of MD and DO programs. Maybe I could even live in Ohio.



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29 responses to “The match is scary

  1. Hey, Ohio is better than I would have imagined. I’m at Ohio University and we have a great osteopathic college of medicine. Also, it’s in a pretty little town with lots of warm and politically aware people. So if you end up getting sent to Athens, I’ll take you to lunch as a consolation prize.

    I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, though, that you got a match somewhere closer to home!

    • MomTFH

      Hmm, now I officially have a contact person in Ohio near a residency, and she’s a cool mom!

      I think my hubby has to accept that he may be coaching in the snow.

      • MomTFH

        I just looked at Athens on the map. I have family in Asheville NC, southern New Jersey, Birmingham AL and Springfield IL. It seems like it’s smack in the middle of all of them!

      • Emily

        Seconding that Athens is a great place to live, even if it is in the middle of nowhere.

        For the record, I’m a CNM in Columbus and would be happy to be a contact person if you end up somewhere near here!

  2. The Match is scary! I had a friend whose husband ended up in the Scramble this year (going for internal medicine). Makes more sense knowing how competitive it was this year. I’m curious, what are your reservations about the osteopathic match?

    • MomTFH

      My reservations were purely geographic. I wanted to stay in the Southeast, (even though I am considering two programs in the Pacific Northwest -edited typo here-) and there are very, very few osteopathic programs, even less in these two areas. The MD match has many times more programs to choose from, and you can only sign up for one match or the other, not both.

  3. The match is soo scary! eek. I am looking at a bunch of programs and even adding into my search family med programs that focus on never know! I am actually originally from Ohio so if you have any questions about the programs or cities there I can help you out..right now I am in Charleston, WV and there is 1 program here too. I really love Athens..I went to undergrad is a small town but very cool. There is also Columbus..not half bad! I am letting myself look all over the country at programs because I feel like I can’t limit my options!

    • MomTFH

      UC Davis has an FP/OB residency. They also have an OB residency.

      I am seriously opening up my options. Ohio is definitely on the list. I know people who live in Cleveland. Athens sounds nice.

      • I have been looking at the program in Klamath Falls (sp?) looks nice!

        People that go to OU (ohio university) in athens often joke that athens is a black hole that sucks you in and you can’t leave! is a small town but there are always lots of things to do and lots of culture do to the college. It is also kind of a hippie isn’t yellowsprings, ohio by any means but it is still pretty neat haha

        • I can testify to Athens’ black-hole effect. We thought we’d be here for six months – and then maybe for a few years – but we’re coming up on a decade.

          I wonder, though, if you wouldn’t be placed at Doctor’s Hospital up in Columbus, instead. I don’t see a whole lot of residents in town.

          At any rate, we are equidistant from all those towns where you’ve got family – but with emphasis on the *distant*, I’m afraid.

          I guess I’ve never picked up on what your mate does. Is he portable? Would he and your kids stay put while you move around? Moving with kids is always a big project …

          • MomTFH

            My husband is an elementary school teacher – physical education, specifically. So, it’s complicated, just like everything else.

            There are, theoretically, teaching jobs everywhere. But, most elementary schools have only one PE coach who usually stays for a long stretch, if not for a full career. The number of schools will depend on the population wherever we end up. He can look around to neighboring counties, too. Also, he can work in a related job, such as a high school team coach, but that is probably part time.

            I have no problem with him being a stay at home dad. He cleans. He does laundry. He will probably want to work some. He has also done carpentry, construction and flooring, before he was a teacher. But, I wouldn’t want him to have to go back to that unless he wanted to.

            My husband and kids are supposed to come with me. Originally, I was going to really try to stay local for residency, then he promised he would move with me wherever I wanted to practice. But, there is one, count it, one ob/gyn residency within driving distance of my house.

            It is definitely a possibility. But, it has been on probation for five years at least, its parent institution just declared bankruptcy (!!!) and it’s known to be, how shall I say it, a place where the residents are very busy, and do lots of interventions. And, because of the bankruptcy, they are closing two satellite labor and delivery locations they have. So, the residents will most likely be worked even harder.

            It’s a major public institution, and the only one in Miami, which has been ranked the poorest city in the United States a few times, that is dedicated to indigent care. It is tied to a major medical school and private university. I don’t think it’s going to close. But, its issues combined with the issues of only ranking one institution (50/50 chance of matching, based on just that parameter) I can’t put all my Easter eggs in that basket.

            Throw in that I have joint custody of my older son, and that we will have three months between getting the results of the match and my start date, I think you can see why this has me freaked the frick out right now.

          • Doctor’s has its own residency program..the one in athens actually is at obleness, however, i think they do some of their electives at doctors.

          • And teaching is tricky because every state has its own certification requirements. Hopefully Florida’s will be accepted everywhere.

            My kids’ school actually shares their PE teacher with one of the other local elementary schools. She’s young and arrived here just a couple years ago. The university is *the* big employer in this neck of the woods.

            And the joint custody issue – oh, yes, I would be a wreck, too! Hopefully you’ll know soon so you can start to make plans.

  4. Come to Seattle! I can tease y0u with so many things! COME TO SEATTLE! I will help you IN EVERY WAY!

    (but I know you are an excellent candidate and will have many options!)

  5. doctorjen

    I’d love to say something comforting about the match – but I can still just about make myself sick thinking about it, and it’s been 12 years! My advice would be to not believe any promises given you. I’d like to think programs are no longer playing dishonestly around the system, but I just don’t know. My other advice would be that although you need to rank safety programs, don’t rank anywhere that you really don’t want to work.
    I will say that although I didn’t end up where I thought I wanted to be, I did end up in probably the best place for my education, and all these years down the road, it’s worked out fine.

    • MomTFH

      Absolutely absolutely. I have been reading the match threads at student doctor dot net. I know they tend to be full of drama, and it naturally selects for people who want to complain, but everyone there is echoing what you are saying.

      Program directors will tell everyone they ranked them highly. Argh. I like to plan things. Years in advance. I am sure I will look back and be happy with my career path. Well, I hope I will, anyway.

  6. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    That always helps me.

  7. I know nothing about medical school, but love medical blogs. What I don’t get is what happens if you don’t match and you can’t find a place with the left over open spots. Are you just finished? 4 years of medical school down the drain? Forced to go into pharmaceutical sales? What?

    • MomTFH

      LOL the suspense!

      Well, you have a lot of options. You can scramble into a spot in another specialty. Some programs offer “prelim” spots in certain specialties, or rotating internship years. You can delay your graduation. You can pursue research or a master’s degree during that year, and shadow in your field.

      You can participate in the match the following year. You are also able to sign a contract for a spot outside of the match, as someone who has already graduated. Osteopathic students are allowed to do that, too, even at the time of the original match. Most programs don’t do this, however.

      Or, you can run away, give up, and find another way to pay your student loans. Work for a pharmaceutical company, work for the NIH or the CDC or the WHO, become a lobbyist, a consultant, write a book….

  8. Phledge

    I will email you. I promise.

  9. emjaybee

    You know, I would say, come to Texas! for my own selfish reasons (specifically Dallas/FtW area) but really, our schools suck and you have kids. So go wherever is good. We did four years in NYC pre-baby, and it was a fun adventure, most of the time.

    • MomTFH

      Yeah, I have to admit, Dallas/Ft. Worth and most of Texas is not on my list. Maybe Austin. Maybe.

      One of my hopes is, that if I have to move, I will be moving to a place that is more progressive than where I live. And, no offense to your city, but it is about as opposite as possible.

      Of course, I am looking at a few sites in the deep South, like Nashville, so, I am obviously compromising to a certain extent. So, never say never!

  10. emjaybee

    🙂 oh no, we know what it’s like. If family were not here, we wouldn’t be either.

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