And so it soon begins, the traveling across the country to visit and interview at residency programs. And then to create a rank list from my most preferred to least preferred programs. And finally, letting the Match dictate where I'll end up for the next 3 years of my life.
One interview down, nine more to go. First to southern California, then to Michigan, then to Philadelphia, then Delaware, and then Chicago. I didn't get interview invites at several programs I really wanted to have the opportunity to interview at (i.e. Kaiser North in Oakland, CA, UCSF, U of MI, UW-Madison, DC programs), but no matter; 10 interviews is plenty to match. According to NRMP statistics, I only "need" to rank about 8 programs to virtually guarantee myself matching somewhere.
You may wonder what "matching" means. Basically, I get interview invitations from residency programs that I send my application to. Of the programs I interview, I create a rank list of which programs I most to least want to end up at. Meanwhile, the programs create a similar rank list of which med students they want as residents from most to least desirable. Then each party submits their list to NRMP and through some computer alchemy, it matches applicant and program. This is a binding contract, so wherever the match dictates, the applicant must go for residency. I've heard that the process favors the applicants, insofar as most applicants get one of their top 3 choices or so.
Still, it's a daunting thing. I've come to accept that I'm almost a second-tier applicant and hence am out of the running for many of the more competitive residency programs. And that's unfortunate but whatever. I'm hoping to fall in love with a few programs, as people keep saying will happen. We shall see.
Let the journey begin! But first to finish packing . . .