Thanks to everyone who attended my AMSA lecture. We had a standing-room only crowd. Your support is appreciated!
Just a reminder that applicants and programs must certify their rank order lists before February 22 at 9pm EST.
Please see my previous blog entry on creating a rank list. Don’t make the error of changing your rank order last minute based on panic! Your list should be a considered decision.
I received an urgent request from an applicant last week. He wanted to discuss a pre-match offer he had received that had a Friday deadline. The pre-match program was an academic institution, which was appealing, but the interview day had left the applicant underwhelmed for a number of reasons.
On the one hand, this offer was a sure thing. On the other, the applicant had noted what he considered to be red flags. He asked me what to do.
As usual, in life there is no right answer. But here are a few suggestions if offered a pre-match:
1. Ask for more time. In the worst case scenario, the program director says no. Nothing lost.
2. Try to move up any interviews you have not yet attended.
3. Contact the other program directors and let them know you have a pre-match offer and give them the deadline date. They may offer you a pre-match in return. Or – on the contrary – they may let you know they are not interested. Either would be helpful in making your decision.
4. Speak to residents who are at the pre-match program. Trainees will often readily tell you the weaknesses of their institution . This information will help you make an informed decision.
5. Assess a) your risk-taking comfort zone and b) the strength of your candidacy. This step is probably the hardest, yet most important.
In the end, the applicant did not accept the pre-match offer and is crossing his fingers he’ll end up at another program he likes better. He is so relieved that – with the information he has now – the decision seems to have been the right one for him.
Medical school and residency training usually decrease one’s happiness for several reasons. Happiness researchers have demonstrated that a feeling of control and the amount of spare time one has both correlate with happiness. Both of those factors are limited during med school and residency. Relationships are also correlated with happiness, and those can be squashed during medical training as well.
I’m not trying to be a downer here! I want to encourage applicants to consider this happiness quotient when selecting an institution and training program. If you are able, maximizing your contentment by choosing an institution that fosters your greatest happiness is key. Geography; proximity to family, friends and community; and a location that provides an opportunity to enjoy hobbies during limited free time is significant.
Excellent training is important, but, in the end, many programs turn out equally qualified clinicians. At least consider your well-being as a factor in selecting where you might be for the next three plus years of your life.
A few applicants have asked me how to keep track of the institutions at which they interview. I do think taking notes immediately after your visit is worthwhile. Writing down your initial thoughts can be very helpful when you have to make decisions months later.
But I have to emphasize that I’m a firm believer in “vibe.” Once you’ve narrowed down your list by geography and quality and once you review your notes, the decision you’ll be making will be based primarily on how you felt about an institution. If this sounds too touchy-feely remember that intuition is not a magical assessment; it’s based on major and minor facts that you consciously and subconsciously analyze.
For individualized help with your interviews contact me at InsiderMedicalAdmissions.com .
The blog will take a short hiatus over the holiday and the beginning of next week. Have a happy Thanksgiving!