Interview season is coming to a close. Some are relieved to be finished with endless traveling, hotels, dry cleaners, and plane tickets. You can finally get back home, resume a predictable schedule, and play catch-up on that which you left untended at home.
Others might lament returning to “normal life,” saying goodbye to jet-setting, and getting wined and dined all over the country by programs trying to garner your interest.
No matter which camp you fall into, when interview season ends, it is time to form a rank list! All your work since last summer (and since you started medical school!) will be distilled into this list that will decide your fate.
How to form your residency rank list at the end of interview season:
1. Finalize and certify your residency rank list. Do it NOW.
It would be the greatest travesty if a clerical error kept you out of residency. DO NOT put yourself in a position where certifying your rank list is something you will “get around to,” or plan to do in the 11th hour on the day of the deadline, only to find your internet is down or your reminder didn’t go off.
When you are done interviewing, put a preliminary list together and certify it. Do it today. Even after certification, you can rearrange your list and re-certify. You are better off certifying a tentative list and revising it than putting ANY possibility of not having a certified rank list by the deadline.
2. Leave the residency pros and cons list at the door
Of course, organizing your rank order list is a big decision, and you want to make the best decision you can with the information that you’ve got. This decision should not be made based on small pros and cons about one program versus another.
The thing that matters most for arranging your rank list is the feel you got when you interviewed at that program.
There is no greater guide than your gut and heart when deciding where you want to train.
From a big picture perspective, your criteria should be pretty simple. You want to find a program where you will get the best possible training, in a city you can tolerate (or even better, have a strong desire to live in) for the duration of training, in a stable program with satisfied residents and engaging faculty.
Don’t overlook the volume of time you will spend with the cadre of residents and attendings you meet at the interview and pre-interview dinner. You’ll be spending more time with them than you do with family, so gelling with their personalities to some degree is relatively essential to your well-being.
You should be able to ascertain how the programs on your list size up on these huge and simple criteria. While simple, it might not be easy. There might be a program which you absolutely love in a place you aren’t keen on moving to. Maybe the training in your dream locale is a little less robust than the former. These decisions can be tricky, and it’s surely important to bring significant others and family into these conversations.
Don’t worry about salary differences, cafeteria ratings, or hospital call room accommodations. Keep the big picture at the forefront.3. Don’t share your NRMP login data with anyone
We’ve all heard the urban legend of the applicant’s fiancee who surreptitiously logged into their rank list, and reorganized it to their own liking. While things like this aren’t happening left and right, it is best to have the piece of mind that for something as important as your rank list, you are the only one who has access to it.
4. Don’t let your chances of matching at programs influence your rank order
The match algorithm is built in such a way that your desires of where you’d like to match outweigh the program’s desires of whom they’d like to match. What this means for you is that you should simply rank the programs in the order you’d like to attend them.
There’s no need for advanced strategies, or trying to figure out how a program is going to rank you. Just put your favorite as number one, second favorite as number two. It couldn’t be simpler.
Naturally, you don’t want to rank any places that you don’t want to attend. If you had a terrible interview somewhere and truly desire to not match there, just don’t put it on your rank list.
Submitting a rank list can be a stressful thing, but it needn’t be. Follow your heart, certify early, and get your programs in order. In one more month, the charade will be over, and it will be time to cruise through the rest of 4th year on the way towards finally becoming an MD.