Saturday 26 October 2013

Expediting Residency Match Application (Serial Versus Parallel Processing Of Tasks)

Very often, I run across questions like: should I do X and then do Y to make my application better. For example, a common question would be should I appear for my Step 2 later this year and then look for observership experiences to boost my chances of a residency interview for the next match cycle?

My answer to deal with questions like these involve the following tasks
1. Taking a high altitude view of the your goals for the next few months so that you don’t get bogged down with details

2. Classify your requirements and CV enhancing ‘to do’ tasks into two bins -
A. Can parallel process
B. Can serial process only.

This will help you plan out your tasks much better and really shorten the time required to have your application packet complete prior to next match cycle. This has been elucidated in Figure 1. As you can see, there are milestones that need to be done in sort of mandatory serial fashion; these are your steps 1, 2 and 3 (green shapes). You can potentially shuffle steps 1 and 2 but still the general idea is that you need one to move on to the next one. The next set of task like those involved in improving your CV are things like US clinical experience, volunteering, research experience etc (orange shapes)

Figure 1: Serial vs Parallel processing in residency applications
If you serial process your plan (figure 1, A), then it is quickly evident that you will spend months more getting your milestones done and you are in danger of missing your match cycle date and get pushed on to the next year. There is another concern of serial processing your match plans – this opens up the possibility of perceiving gaps in your resume by the programs. Since time spent studying for steps does not really count on your CV, these would appear as ‘down times’ and the only things that would be accounted for are the experiences. If you employ parallel processing method for planning your residency match target, then you will find that time frame is significantly compressed and you get much more done in a relatively shorter period of time.

Thus, my advice for the readers is take a stock of your situation and outline
A. Goals achieved
B. Goals pending

Once you have clear outline of things you need to accomplish, see which of those you can parallel task and which of those you may have to serial task. This methodical approach to a highly complex process will ease the hardships, reduce total time required to be ‘eligible’ for a fair chance at interview match and overall improve the outcomes.


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