Rank list season again

Well, it’s that time of year again: NRMP civilian residency match season. It’s the time when thousands of medical students agonize over their rank lists. (For those not familiar with the residency match, a rank list is an applicant’s “wish list” of the programs they would like to go). Every year, students ask for advice on their rank lists. To be honest, much of the advice is the same year to year, but I think it bears repeating. Keep in mind that, as an OB/GYN resident, this advice will be most useful to people applying in OB/GYN. So, without further ado, I present this year’s rank list FAQ’s. 

How many programs should I rank?

Great question! The short answer is that you should rank every program that you would be willing to attend, however many that is. In OB/GYN, the general recommendation is 12-15 programs, but if you interviewed at 20 programs that you would be happy to attend, rank 20! If you only interviewed at 8 or 10 programs, it is obviously too late to change that now.

There is a program that I didn’t really like. How do I decide whether to put it at the bottom of my list, or not rank it at all?

If it’s your last choice, then you won’t end up there unless you fail to match at any of the other programs where you applied. If you don’t include that program on your rank list and then don’t match, you would be left to try to secure a position in the SOAP. The Supplemental Offer Acceptance Program (SOAP) is similar to the Scramble which happened in the past – it allows programs which didn’t fill to offer positions to applicants who didn’t match in the main match. In the past few years, there have been very few spots in OB/GYN in the SOAP. In my graduating class, the students who didn’t match in the main match were unable to secure OB/GYN positions in the SOAP.

So you have to ask yourself: would I rather train in this program, or not match in OB/GYN?

Even if you can get a spot in the SOAP, these will be the programs which didn’t fill in the main match. Where will the training be better: the place you decided not to rank, or the place and all of your colleagues decided not to rank?

Once I have decided on my top one or two programs, what should I do?

It’s worth reaching out to your top few programs a few weeks before rank lists go it – email the program director, email a few residents, or ask a mentor to make some phone calls on your behalf. If you are going to do this, I would recommend doing it now (early January), before the programs have finalized their own rank lists. Phone calls and emails in March, when the programs have already finalized their lists, aren’t going to do you any good.

 

What other questions do you have about rank lists?

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