Monday, January 27, 2014

Match Day...

I'm sorry for the radio silence.  I'm back to working on my master's, and I feel like I'm living out of my car most of the time. I'm gearing up for Snow day #5 since Christmas Break.  Sadly, my house is still not clean.  However, I have gone through my entire closet (clothes to be coming soon, family!) and finished our taxes. The house will be done tomorrow...

Anyway, I've had so many questions on this... so here's what has been on our minds the past few months.  After driving 6,000+ miles, it's sometimes exhausting hearing things like, "has he heard anything yet?"  I completely understand why you would ask, but I think it gets annoying because we don't know what to say about the whole process.  Here goes my elementary understanding of the process...

First, some definitions:
Residency:  A 5 year program that gives a small stipend.  For the first time, Scott will be referred to as Doctor, have a longer white coat, and we won't be paying the school for him to get some experience.
Transitional Year: His first year of 5 years.  Because he's going into a specialized field, they use the first year to acquaint you with a variety of jobs in different aspects of the medical field.
Combined Program or Categorical Program: A residency program that includes the transitional year in the same hospital.  In our specific field, this isn't common (meaning we have a good possibility of two moves very soon).

Now, for the algorithm (After all of my math courses, this algorithm makes complete sense, but gives me goosebumps every time).

Our side of the Algorithm:
Scott sent out a good chunk of applications to residency programs of our choosing.  We chose based on their record, their "name", and most importantly, their location (see last post). We heard back, and set out on the interviewing journey. Unfortunately, most programs are not combined, so we had both the transitional year interviews and the main residency interviews.  Now, we are currently assembling, disassembling, revising, and finalizing our residency rank list.  Here, Scott and I scrutinize each place based on their pros and cons to develop some type of ordered list of our favorite places.  If we really don't like a place, we can't put it on our list because there is a chance we could get sent there.  So, we only rank those places that we are comfortable living and working.  For me, most include a job change (or 2) ... so it's all rather baffling.  Then, for each place, we create a separate transitional year list.  So, if my rank looks like this: "Awesome, Good, Semi-Good,"  I then have a separate rank for Awesome's first year: "Awesome #2, Good #2, Semi-Good #2."  Once we are satisfied by our list, we can submit it to the website.  Then, as the game plays out, you call, pray, and send notes indicating that you think of them highly.  It's a game in every sense of the word, except that you have to wait months to figure out if you won and it's not much fun.

Their side of the Algorithm:
While we're fumbling away, they are doing the same.  They decide if they want to rank each applicant.  Many will rank 6-10 people for each 1 spot.. but you are at home praying that they choose to rank you high.

Once deadlines have passed, the computer starts the algorithm.  If Scott's #1 ranks him #1, then we're done. Or, the algorithm continues.  It goes to person #2, and if person #2 ranks #1 first, then they match.  It continues all of this until most people are matched.  Then, it repeats for the transitional year.

Dun...Dun...Dun... Match Week!On Monday,  March 17th, we are notified whether or not we matched.  Daunting, right?  You're given a note saying "Congratulations," or "Sorry." If you receive the "Sorry" letter, you go through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).  In a way, this is like a mini-match, where applicants who didn't match try for places that didn't fill their open residency spots. It is unlikely that you interviewed at this program or had even thought of living there. Boy, I hope we are not in that position.

On Friday, March 21st, we have a fancy lunch.  Here, they tell you where your next 1 & 4 years will be.  There's no "accepting" or "denying" the invitation.  You are going there.  That's it.

The hardest part is the unknown.  I'm a planner... so it kills me that we have no idea what we're doing next year until March 21st.  Then, once we're at that date, it's all depicted for us.  There's no stage of "warming up to the idea." It's just important we are both on the same page and willing to go wherever we're sent and hope that it's one of our top choices.

So, there you have it.  If you'd like some explanations without my commentary, visit this site.  They offer some great, in-depth explanations of the whole process.  If you browse long enough, you find out that there's a good chance we will go through this again for fellowship.  If you ask us about this, sorry in advance for the vague answers.  We don't really know what to say.  It could go really well, but we don't want to spend time really hoping and praying that we get sent to our top choice.  What if we don't?  Who knows...