Sunday, March 20, 2011

Match Day 2011

This past Thursday, medical school seniors found out where they are matched to residencies. Ishani Ganguli, one of the newest in the fine tradition of doctor/writers reflects briefly on her experience: Matched!

"For medical students, Match Day can be exhilarating or deeply disappointing. Some schools create pageantry around the event, asking students to come up to the mike in front of an amphitheater of classmates to receive and read aloud their results. Others, like Harvard, simply pass out the envelopes and serve lunch."

1 comment:

dWj said...

> Either way, I felt a bit strange, even queasy, having my future handed to me like that, perhaps because I had no control, no undo button, at this stage of the process.

Those complaints I have heard that aren't obviously traceable to not understanding the process seem to be of this nature; 1) we're more used to knowing what are options are and picking one, rather than having to rank, essentially picking from different hypothetical sets of choices, and 2) there's a month or two in which you have no control; before that you're continually revising your choice, after that you're making your plans, but in the middle you have a lot of uncertainty around something important over which you have no control. I don't know that there's anything to be done about 1), and as information problems go, it really doesn't seem terribly severe, but I'm curious as to why the lag between submission and result is so long. You've mentioned that there are error checking algorithms that make sure applicants didn't miscode their choices; what else causes the delay to be so long? (I assume the computer algorithm can pretty much run overnight, even with 20000 applicants and hundreds of programs; is this wrong?)

(More than "queasiness", this delay seems to cause real practical problems for couples of which one is a medical student and the other is not; it's quite easy for a graduating business student to get a job offer in February to which he can't respond "I'll tell you in a month", where a couple in a more conventional market would either know where the spouse was going or would still be able to change where the spouse was going.)

I have a friend who's in her third year at Harvard medical, and she told me she'll keep me in the loop as she goes through the process; I've read about the match over the past couple years, but haven't had someone I knew this well go through it before.