Thursday 21 April 2011

How to maximize off-cycle match chances (outside of NRMP)

No match? try off-match

Almost all of us know about the NRMP match and the punishing rigors one has to endure to get through to a match. If a candidate does not match during one cycle there is no need to feel dejected or panic, there may still be hope for some one who is resourceful enough. There are 'gems' of vacant spots interspersed all over the country waiting to be picked, finding them is the key. 

Life is one big list

Prepare a list of all people you know who are at present time residents or fellows in universities or community programs. Once you have a list of all the hospitals and their residency programs, start collecting the phone numbers of program director or emails of the same. See here on how to harvest emails of the program directors and other faculty. Once you have a list ready, start calling these places in 2 phases.

Phase 1 is July and August 
Phase 2 is November, December or January. 

Phase 1 is for instances when resident do not show up for their slots for whatever reason (personal, visa etc) or decide to leave the program early on. On the other hand, phase 2 is for those occasions when the program fires the resident or PGY1 chooses to leave the program for other reasons (see paragraph below). 

Look up on  FREIDA and see if there are programs that are amenable to off cycle start for residency.

Cutthroat competition in a ruthless world

Enquire from all of your contacts if there is a someone in the program is not doing well or is struggling (seems cold but this is a dog eat dog world). Most programs are able to identify interns who are not as well suited for the job. Though no program wants to lose or fire a PGY1 resident there are very real circumstances that can lead to drop out. USually, these are resident who leave either for personal reasons (couples who could not couples match, fiance in other institution etc) or because the program has determined that they are not qualified to fulfill their duties as a resident (multiple disciplinary actions against the resident etc). Once you have a know how or an inkling to even one spot that might open up, its game time.

Game time

Brush up your resume, connect with your contacts in the program and ask them to throw in more than a few good words regarding you. Call up the program director and fix a meeting in person. Treat this as serious as your Match interview and read up about the program. Show that you have done your homework.

Other sources

American medical association has a page dedicated to vacancies or AAMC find a resident service lets you search for vacant spots. Problem with this approach is that these will be well publicized spots and you will be facing stiff competition from 100s of eager candidates. The best spot is one which you earn with least competition and is usually a 'word - of mouth' type deal.

Happy hunting!

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