The mysterious Match Day

Congratulations! You’ve made it to our second blog post. You sure are dedicated! Nothing super exciting happened this week (well except winter storm Jonas, but that is a blog post for next week) so Cory and I thought it would be a good idea to explain what is facing us in the next several months. So fasten your seatbelt and put on your thinking cap this is going to be a bumpy ride.

Let’s start at the beginning: Residency is the training a young doctor is required to have after medical school. It can take anywhere from 3-7 years for the initial training followed by a possible fellowship allowing you to specialize even more. I have chosen to pursue Family Medicine. It is a primary care specialty in which you can take care of kids to geriatrics. “The Match” is how medical schools determine where you will go to get the extra training or “Residency”.

Since November, I have been interviewing at Family Medicine residencies across the country. Last week I entered my rank list for “The Match”. I probably lost half of you with the last statement. Frankly, even I don’t understand it exactly. I’m going to do my very best to explain what all of this means.

Say I interview at 3 programs. We’ll call them Larry, Curly, and Mo. I try to make them like me. They try to make me like them. Nobody is completely honest, unfortunately. I then rank the programs from my favorite to least favorite. My list looks like this:

  1. Mo
  2. Curly
  3. Larry

I enter that list into the website for National Residency Match Program (NRMP). The schools make similar lists of their favorite candidates and also enter it into the NRMP. That is where algorithm magic takes place. Here is my long and complicated version of how that works:

For ease of explanation, let’s say each program accepts 6 applicants. The algorithm looks at my first choice, Mo, and if I am in the top 6 applicants, I have matched at that program and I am done. If, however, the program ranks me anywhere lower than #6, I am preliminarily matched at that program. The algorithm then goes through all the candidates and does similar matches. If less than 6 candidates listed above me match at Mo, then I move up in rank and still match at Mo. If 6 people match above me, the algorithm looks at my second option, Curly. Then the whole process starts over.

So what happens if I don’t match to Mo, Curly, or Larry? Then I’ll get a call March 14 informing me of this. At that point, I would SOAP. I have no clue what SOAP stands for. Supplemental something. I would start calling programs that didn’t fill (not enough people matched to cover all of their positions). We would do short phone interviews. Then I would enter another list into the NRMP and the magical algorithm would go to work again. I have until March 17 to finish this process.

On March 18, 2016, I’ll get a letter to open telling me where I will spend the next 3 years of my life. It’s exciting and nerve racking. Statistically, 95% of applicants match if they rank 10 programs. Here is the hang up: I only got 4 interviews and I tend to defy the odds set forth by statistics. I am also not the best candidate on paper (hence only 4 interviews).

I would like to say that at this point it is out of my hands, but truly, it has never been in my hands. If I believe that God is sovereign (He has control over all), and omnipotent (He knows all things), then I must believe that this has always been in God’s hand. He already knows where I will be for the next 3 years of my life and beyond.

This is my prayer: that the Lord would see fit to bring Cory and I back together, that I would receive the best training to care for people to His glory, and that I would praise him no matter what happens come the middle of March.

That’s it for now,

Beth Goff

PS: If this still confusing to you, and you are dedicated enough. You can read more about “The Match” here, or comment your question below and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.

2 thoughts on “The mysterious Match Day

  1. SOAP – Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program 🙂

    I only know that because Makenna is looking into all of this and I researched it with her a few weeks ago 🙂

    Keep the updates coming 🙂 Y’all are awesome!


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