MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Residency Scramble: Do You Stand A Chance?

As I was browsing the web today, I came upon one of those services that claims to help applicants attain residency positions in the scramble. This inspired me to write a post about the scramble so readers can better understand the odds of obtaining a position.

Representatives from the National Residency Matching Program presented some interesting data this year at the Association of American Medical Colleges Meeting. In 2009, the number of unmatched US seniors was nearly equal to the number of unfilled positions. Why is this significant? First of all, US students typically have support from their medical schools to "land" these open spots. Most program directors would rather take a US student who has a reputable advocate at their side with whom they can speak. Independent applicants, most of whom are international medical graduates (IMGs), on the other hand, are often alone in this process. Therefore, the independent applicant has an extremely slim chance of earning one of these open positions.

What are some other important facts? In 2009, the majority of unfilled positions were preliminary and not categorical positions and 2/3 of these positions were filled by 4 PM on scramble day. More than 13,000 individuals, most of whom are IMGs, enter the match just to obtain a list of unfilled positions. As you can see from the numbers, entering the match to obtain the list of unfilled spots is not a great strategy if you want a residency position.

One of the formal definitions of scramble is "to struggle or contend frantically in order to get something." With more than 14,000 people competing for roughly 1000 open positions, you can see that the word "scramble" accurately describes the process in its current form. I wrote an article about the scramble on the Student Doctor Network in 2009, which discusses the scramble in greater detail and, as mentioned in the article, scramble reform is on the way. The proposed "managed" scramble, which may be implemented as early as 2011, will prevent applicants from entering the match just to obtain the list of unfilled positions and will make the process more controlled.

If, after reading this blog entry, you still plan or need to find a residency position via the scramble, you can find the list of important dates and times that pertain to scramble 2010 here.

Please note that MedEdits does not offer any scramble services but we are already working with residency applicants who want to improve their candidacy to apply for residency in 2010/2011.