Rank and File

As of 9 PM tonight EST, the main National Resident Matching Program is closed to changes. For students and programs alike, the rank list is fixed. There's no more tweaking the positions, no more re-reading of emails for hidden meanings.

Interviews are over, the decisions have been made, and there's nothing to do but sit and wait. I look forward to the time where I can look back on this and sigh at the uncertainty, the tedium, the angst.

Most everyone who's gone through this process (ie, most physicians I know) seems to downplay this period. But that may just be human nature: from the perspective of the matched, everything fits. There's a re-casting of the narrative leading up to Match Day.

I hear things like, "Of course I thought I'd end up at Program X. I had such a great interview, and their program director trained with my advisor." Sure, in retrospect, it seems inevitable. But the truth is, no one knows until until they open the envelope. And no matter where you go (assuming you match in your top four) you're going to be pretty happy, right?

I can only hope. And wonder -- is there is any other career when your future employer, your future city of residence, is decided in secret and revealed to you, 90 days before you start work?

Maybe the military?

At least now that rankings are certified, I can breath a little easier, blogwise, knowing nothing I write can change a program's ranking of me. The past few months have featured more lip-biting and nervous glances at SiteMeter than I care to admit (and, hey, what was that flurry of activity from penn.edu?)

It's all over but the shouting: Match Day is March 17th. As luck would have it, that's also St. Patrick's Day, which is splendidly efficient since I planned on drinking, anyway.

More on the intricacies of the match algorithm can be found on the NRMP site.

And, for a tale of high drama that spawned a blog of its own, check out my post on the Urology Match last month. Be sure to read the thoughtful comments from Jeffrey Huo, a former student member of the NRMP board who puts a very human face on this black box process.