Tuesday 30 August 2011

Residency list review - Match a resident

This is my first review of a residency program list. The service that I am going to review today is ‘match a resident’. The purpose of this article is to hopefully answer some questions about this residency list service.

The website is at matcharesident.com and looks well made. The questionnaire in the beginning helps to customize the list. Make sure you put in the right credentials when doing so as it will affect the outcome of the list that is generated for you. The log in and registration were very easy and with in 5 minutes I was ready to use the website. The website is secure and certified with a GoDaddy.com Web Server Certificate. Transactions on the site are protected with up to 256-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption and the certificate is valid up to 02/06/2014, which is means that the financial transactions on the website will be carried out with strict industry standards.

The ‘meet your update team’ section on the website was nice as it gives a face to the seemingly mechanistic process of making and updating residency lists. Though many folks on the site are wearing white coats, I don’t know they are medical students or residents or employees of MAR who are wearing a professional uniform. They all seem young but nonetheless it gives a slight personal touch. The welcome interface is sleek.

What was reassuring was the fact that this organization has a physical address and a phone number. I look for a physical address for Internet based companies and look to see if they have legitimate contact information including email, telephone and an address. Thus if there is an issue that needs to be resolved, there are multiple ways to get in touch with them.

Once logged in, I reached the list of my choice (I chose IM list as I have finished my residency in IM ). Since I was intimately involved with the residency match process at my institution,  I  should be able to relate to the content of the list and went through the programs listed. The format is clean and simple to use. The videos of the update team are also included for the programs and felt a little superfluous since most information that you need from the list is in the textual part.

One thing to remember with this and such similar lists is that you are responsible for contacting the residency programs to verify their screening and selection criteria as they could change. The list is but a guide and one should also do their homework before actually applying to programs.

The list was created with the questionnaire that I filled in at registration; hence, the list seems fairly well tailored. The nature of the list depends on the input and here in lies a caveat.  At first, I thought that I would not know about programs that are not MY list but this is easily fixed by giving users access to a ‘non customized list’, which essentially lists all programs.

Things included with the list are application deadline, FMG percentage in program (if known), what kind of visa sponsored/accepted, USCE requirement, Year of graduation, USMLE score, if program offers prematch, couples match and additional comments. They also have a feature where in if you chose to apply to program and you are invited, you can indicate that the program is in your interview schedule and a new icon appears next to it.  There are also other icons, which show up indicating if a program offers a prematch or couples match.

One thing that struck me as useful was that the list is not fixed and can be updated. Some lists in printed format have the disadvantage that the content is static, once in print there is no change to it. The match a resident list is online and thus can be updated with the information on programs. This ties in well with another feature called, 'comments by others' section that provides real-time feedback from users of the MAR.  This allows for another layer of updates regarding the programs or other selection parameters. An example is the Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in AZ, where one user mentions how good his interview experience was and recommended on one hotel to stay instead of other. Things like this make the list more versatile and dynamic. In addition, Match a resident has a tie with the doctok forum, which adds another stratum of information and dialogue for the match process.
One must realize that this information is available and out there for anyone who seeks to obtain it. This list does not provide information that is unknown but in fact surmises it in an easily available and succinct fashion. An applicant can seek this information online or obtain it from the programs themselves but one would have to invest the time and effort. The advantage of doing so is money saved. Click here for more information on doing it your own way. On the other hand, the biggest advantage of residency list services as Match-a-resident is the convenience of saving time and effort. Thus if you are short of time and can afford to pay, then definitely make use of services like MAR.

Though I don’t yet have first hand information regarding other match list providers, I thought the presentation, listing and design of match a resident website was user friendly. The user is however again encouraged to get familiar with multiple match list services and chose one, which best appeals to their purpose. 

Disclaimer - I was invited by MAR to review their service. There are no other commercial conflicts of interest in this review. I have not used list services for my own match back in 2008 and my match experience was based on the list that I compiled from various sources on the Internet.

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