Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Matching to a Different Drummer

 Hi and thanks for the blog, I love reading it when I get a chance to sit at my computer and procrastinate!

My question is this- I'm a caribbean med student from the midwest, and due to odd scheduling, I'll be done with my 4th year electives in July, taking step 2 at the end of that month.
This means I will miss this years' match, of course.
What should I do for the 10 months that I have off before residency starts in July 2011?

Get a job in research at the hospital that I'd like to get a spot with?
Get a job as an EMT?
Get a job with nothing to do with medicine and study like mad to take step 3 before residency starts?
Is it possible to start residency in September?? ( I want to do Peds)

I'm single and childless- but I have joked that those 10 months off would be the perfect time to be pregnant! :) Current BF grins while looking green... lol. I'm not looking to have a kiddo yet, just seems from reading your stories that this is the last time I'll have 10 months off in a row!

Thanks for any replies!! I appreciate you all.

Being out of step with the match can work to your advantage in several ways. Some positions do open up in the middle of the year, when people drop out, switch specialties and so on. I am not quite sure where such positions are advertised, but the dean of your school may know, or you can check in a specialty newsletter. If you have graduated before you apply, you are not obligated to go through the match at all. This frees up a program director to take a position out of the match and sign you up at any time before submitting a match list. If you are applying to a residency that has trouble filling slots some years, this can work to everyone’s advantage. Programs hate to have positions unfilled on Match Day, and it also frees you up to do whatever you want, knowing your position will be there in July.

If you are looking for interesting things to do, there are many opportunities in international relief related medicine, including disaster relief, maternal child health clinics, HIV clinics and so on. The internet is full of requests for people who want volunteer in Haiti, and the need is going to be there for years (try Partners in Health as a sponsor, in particular). You can also use your time to get far along with another degree—for example, if you take a full semester of courses toward an MPH, you will likely be able to finish it during residency, and that is a great credential to have later on. You could also take courses in humanities, again with the idea of cultivating medical humanities in residency and teaching in this new field in the future.

Another or additional activity is to learn to be a standardized patient—the work pays something, is very flexible, and teaches valuable patient relationship skills that may be helpful during residency. Other medically related, paying jobs that a medical student is qualified to do include phlebotomy, being on an IV team, and being a “sitter.”

Finally, there are some educational experiences that you could pursue if still enrolled, for example, the neurology elective at the Queen’s Square hospital in London or the advanced psychopharmacology clerkship at the National Institutes of Mental Health. Students also can go to some professional meetings for free as recorders—the Child Psychiatry meetings for example—and that could really enrich the time between school and residency.


  1. The range of possible experiences you described makes me wish I had been out of step with the match!

  2. I wish I had majored in a language, or something completely non science related. I think the problem is that getting into medical school forces us to pick majors, courses, paths, and roads that we otherwise would have have chosen.


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