Generally when people think of emergency physicians, they think of adjectives like “laid back,” “chill,” “type-B,” and so on. Well, I definitely was not feeling like any of these descriptions during any part of the application or Match process. For me, the Match was the one last giant hurdle that stood between my future as an emergency medicine physician and the past 6 years leading up to that point.
Every medical student these days is constantly barraged by the “jaws of death” that is the Match. Every year more people are applying to a pool of residency positions that has grown at a slower rate, inevitably creating a spiral of anxiety that drives us to plot crazy back-up plans at 3 in the morning (bad news: running away to the circus isn't a viable option). Fortunately for us applying to emergency medicine, the number of EM spots has increased by 20% in the past 5 years.
Yet this growth in residency spots remains outpaced by interest in the specialty. This became painfully evident early on in this past application cycle when the Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine (CDEM) had to build a website to help students find open away rotations. This was a historic first in what could become a necessity in future years. Programs are also affected, as applicants are applying to a greater number of programs despite EM advisors recommending a more targeted selection of programs based on competitiveness. While no changes have yet been proposed, this has sparked intense conversation between program directors about how to encourage more thoughtful applications in the future.
The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) opted to investigate a potential solution to the trend of increased applications per student by running a standardized video interview study for emergency medicine applicants during the 2016-2017 application cycle. To read more about this project and how it may affect applications in the future, check out this article. While it is unclear whether more permanent changes to the application process will occur, candidates can be sure they will continue to feel the strain as the trend toward increased applications per applicant continues.
For now, I am happy to have matched and happier still that I don't have to go through the process again! Good luck to those who are starting the cycle once again with applications for audition rotations.