So, today is the day that all fourth year medical students await. Today decides their fate. You see on match day one is "matched" with a residency program and it isn't until match day that the medical student finds out where she will be completing her residency. Of course the medical student knows that she will be matched to one of the programs on her rank list (and if she didn't, she would know this and have scrambled, more on that in minute.) She has interviewed and carefully constructed her list, but it may be 20 programs long and involve five different cities and states so it is with trepidation, excitement and anticipation that match day arrives.
I was with Dr. Boyfriend on his match day. Most US medical schools, his included, hold a special ceremony where everyone is given an envelope and at noon they open the said envelope and smile, scream or cry with relief or disappointment. I was with Dr. Boyfriend and his classmates and most of them matched to one of their top programs (like #1 or #2 or maybe #3 or #4, rarely further down the list. Plus 96% of US medical students match so the scramble is the exception.) Anyhow, I was with him and he matched at his top choice in OB/GYN and it happened to be where I was living/working so we were both happy, relieved and excited. Most of his classmates were also happy. I remember one girl who matched to her #1 choice (but for some reason in her mind she thought she was going to match further down the list to a NYC program.) Anyhow, there she was crying and upset and we all wondered what to say, "I'm sorry you matched to your #1 program????" Well fast forward a few years and she is married and very happy at said program but the thing is, you never know, and the match is out of your control is so many ways. It shapes the next three-five plus years of your life and this decision comes via a computer.
So back to that day of Dr. Boyfriend's match. His graduating class was around 100 students so there were just a couple that had to scramble. I know that they all did scramble and I forget details but I think someone matched for categorical but needed a pre-lim year and hadn't matched, so he scrambled and ended up in Hawaii. We all laughed and thought, well that isn't too bad, I mean it is Hawaii for a year! So yeah, that has been my personal experience with Match Day.
So now six years later I am in the middle of medical school, but it is not a US school and so Match Day for my types goes a little differently. I still have two more years until I will be the one matching but I pay attention to my upperclassmen and where they match, how many match, etc. It is still early in the day so SGU has not yet updated the list but here is the link. Right now it only contains those that pre-matched (aka signed outside of the match, this is one of the only advantages to being a IMG), matched to a Canadian program (their match was last week) or matched into a program that uses an early match system (mainly competitive programs like ENT, Plastics, Ophthamology so that students that don't match can try to again with the regular match in a different field.) Anyhow the list is just a fraction of what it will be. So keep checking if you are interested.
So far I haven't heard too much about students scrambling, but then again I'm two years out and don't really know that many upperclassmen. I guess only time will tell. In a given year we are told that 85% of SGU student match. Now that includes everyone and being an international medical school not everyone tries to match. And we know that some sign outside of the match. But there are of course an unlucky few... So, fingers crossed for all of those matching today, that they did in fact match or were able to scramble.
So, about the scramble. On Monday those students that did not match were notified. And on Tuesday a list of program that had not filled was released. Last year there were 8,794 unmatched applicants and only 1,060 unfilled spots. So if you are one of the unlucky few and not taking in account anything else, you have a 1:8 chance of scrambling for one of the coveted unfilled spots. And it is a scramble, the student and any help she can recruit calls, phones, faxes, emails and begs for an interview in hopes of gaining a spot. This is another time when being a US medical student has its advantages. If you need to scramble and chances are, you don't, most likely your Dean will make some calls on your behalf. If you go to SGU, well good luck with that. Needless to say, you don't want to scramble.
I cannot even fathom what it would be like to finish four years of medical school and then not have a place to go for residency. This is the real underbelly of being an IMG, what they don't tell you at the open house and what you hope is only a rumor or thing that happens to those less fortunate students that go to lesser schools than the Harvard of the Caribbean. Now it is looking a little bit better for next year. The NRMP is introducing SOAP which from what I gather will be a controlled scramble, basically a 2nd match. To read about these changes see the NRMP website and SOAP pdf. I don't know if it will help IMGs like myself but I guess time will tell. I think it will help the highest qualified applicants secure a spot and will take much of the "luck" out of it. Sure the US students will be served first, but that is how it is now anyhow.
So to all those matching today, I hope that Match Day gives you much to celebrate. Go enjoy a green beer and cheers, you've worked hard for today!