March 19th—Match Day—is just around the corner, and many residency hopefuls are biting their nails as the NRMP’s algorhythms work their magic. There’s not much else to do, after all the applications are submitted and interviews concluded and thank you notes written. Now it’s just a waiting game.
The majority of applicants will hear “Congratulations, you have matched…” on March 16th. But with nearly 36,000 applicants competing for 25,000 slots (if this year’s anything like last), it’s inevitable that some will hear “we are sorry, you did not match to any position” instead. For these people, the fine-tuning of the Match breaks down into the chaos of the Post-Match Scramble.
If you end up in the Scramble, don’t panic. A little organization will make this process a bit less hectic. In that 24 hours between learning your status and contacting programs, you can prepare yourself:
- Find a place to work with access to a computer connected to a fax.
- Get good clean copies of all the materials you’ll need to fax: your C.V., your Step scores, your ECFMG certificate, your medical school transcripts, your personal statement, your recommendations, your Dean’s letter, and of course your photograph. If you can scan these docs beforehand, it will expedite the faxing process.
- Draft a simple cover letter that expresses your interest in their open position, highlights (in bullet points) your strengths, and thanks them for their time in considering your application. All you’ll need to do is change the address information for each program and …
- Personalize the cover letter if you possibly can. This could include any specific information about the program—an affinity for the area, a family physician who’s an alumnus, even one of their med students who you met on a visiting rotation. Any connection you can make to the program will help you stand out, and that’s what you want at this stage.
I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed the Scramble, but an organized approach can help you survive it with your sanity intact.
By the way, the NRMP is proposing a more “managed” scramble. With a mandatory “time out” period between when applications are submitted and offers made, binding electronic “handshakes,” and submissions made only through the ERAS system, it promises to introduce some much needed sanity into the process. Details of the proposal are available at http://www.nrmp.org/ and comments are requested.
By Cydney Foote, author of Write Your Way to a Residency Match and Write Your Way to a Fellowship Match. For more guidance, please check out Accepted’s admissions consulting and essay editing services.