The Interview Process and Match Day

Hi friends and family! This isn’t an update post, it’s an informative one (i.e. warning: this could be boring), as I’ve had enough questions about this to warrant a blanket explanation. If you know a lot about the medical training process, you can skip most of this, but I’m going to pretend you know nothing so I cover all my bases. 😉

As most of you know, Michael is going through the interview process for his next step: residency. Residency is both job and school. Michael will be a “real” doctor when he starts residency, yes, and he will be paid for his work– but the process to get into a residency training program is more like applying to medical school than like applying for a job.

Before I write more, let me confirm that Michael is applying for INTERNAL MEDICINE residency training programs. Internal medicine is the broadest of specialties, and he can train further to another specialty under this broad umbrella (such as gastroenterology or oncology, etc.) after his three-year residency, in what’s called a fellowship. We’ll talk about that in about three years. 🙂

There are hundreds of internal medicine residency options across the country. Michael applied to 30. To apply, medical students use a program online, and they submit their application (including CV and Step 1 score), personal statement, letters of recommendation, and Dean’s Letter (this is not a letter of recommendation, per se– it’s a summary of the student’s work and feedback from supervisors throughout medical school, along with information about the curriculum, etc.). Programs evaluate applications from mid-September through the end of October, and most begin offering interviews during that time. Interviews can be offered and taken through the end of January-ish, though. When Michael is offered an interview, that program becomes a real option for residency. If he takes the interview, he can rank the program (more on ranking later). If he turns down an interview or is not offered one, the program is no longer an option.

The interviews are much like a medical school interview or a job interview, but (for Michael, at least) they are slanted a little more heavily toward selling the program. The programs know that great students like Michael have a lot of options, and so they are focusing on making their program look really great so that Michael will want to come there. They also ask him questions and get to know him, but they know from his scores and letters of recommendation that he’s an excellent candidate. The interview is really for them, and for Michael, to see if he would fit in well– and for him to ask more detailed questions about the program that he can’t get answered without actually going there. Also, these are all places we would be living for a minimum of three years. So he’s seeing if the city feels like a good fit, too.

By February, interviews are over, and ranking begins. We look through all the programs at which Michael interviewed (it will probably end up being ~15), and decide where our top choices are. I say “we”– Michael needs to really like the program for it to be an option, and I need to be willing to live in that place. We can list, in ranking order, ALL of the programs, or just a few. It’s a numbers game, and I won’t go too into the details (but you can ask if you’re really interested). At the same time, the programs are looking at all the students they interviewed, and ranking them in the same fashion. All these ranked lists are submitted online, and fed through an algorithm that matches students to the best-fitting program. Each student is matched to ONE program (it’s not like a job offer, in that way).

And then: Match Day. This year, it’s Friday, March 18th. On this day, every 4th year medical student across the country finds out where they are going for residency. Earlier that week, all students will be notified of whether they matched or not. (If they don’t match, that’s a whole other post. But we will know before Match Day that we have a place to go, just not where it is.) On Match Day, medical schools usually have a ceremony and a meal and all that nice stuff. In a way, it’s almost as big a deal as graduation day. For us personally, it’s probably a bigger deal! Michael will receive an envelope, he’ll open it, and it will tell us where we’re going. And then (I hope) we celebrate!

And that’s how the interview process for residency works. Ta-da!

As of now, Michael has been offered 19 interviews. He’s turned down a few of the programs that were safety options. We’d love your prayers during this time– it involves a lot of travel, a lot of me being home alone, and a lot of Michael having to be “on.” The more clarity we have while going through this process and making decisions, the better!


3 thoughts on “The Interview Process and Match Day

  1. Thanks for you beautiful clarity in helping us understand the process, Dana! You two are DEFINITELY being prayed for–on every level, and in every detail of this adventure!


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