How Not to Match
5 Ways to Minimize Your Chances of Obtaining a Desirable Residency
1) Get a DUI
Let’s face it, medical students drink. Each year a few will take it too far and end up with a DUI, public intoxication, or other less desirable charges. Many residency program directors carefully evaluate the "Risk/Reward" ratio when accepting residents, and any hint of pre-existing substance abuse is a big red flag. Whether it was a one-time slip up, or a pattern of reckless behavior, any criminal charges can make it difficult to get into your desired residency program or even specialty of choice.
2) Lie on your application (and get caught)
Dishonesty is not one of the key personality traits residencies are looking for in their applicants. Even the larger specialties tend to have a very small circle of program directors. Word gets around. Be very careful about how much "elaboration" you decide to include on your application.
3) Blow the interview
Not everyone has the charisma to interview well, but all residency applicants should have the social skills to not completely blow it. Make sure you spend some time on the programs website and talking to residents at the dinner. Think of at least 1 intelligent question to ask in order to sound interested. Under no circumstances be rude, condensing, or abrasive to the program coordinator, secretary, or any other ancillary staff. Your interview begins with the e-mail you send the program accepting the interview. At most programs the residency coordinator holds the power to get your application thrown out if you are disrespectful!
4) Try to couples match into Dermatology/Orthopedics or other ridiculous combos
Contrary to popular belief, couples matching, when done in a smart and reasonable way does not decrease your chance of a successful match. However, attempting to couples match into two extremely competitive specialties can sometimes be quite difficult. In order to couples match successfully you need to generate as many different rank combinations as possible, and to do this you need lots of interviews each. If you each only get 2 interviews in the same city, then it’s starting to get risky. There are ways to use a transition or research year to mitigate this risk and still end up together in the same city in your desired specialty the following year
5) Suffer delusions of grandeur
Some students have a hard time setting reasonable goals. It can be hard for preceptors to sit down with students and try to dissuade them from their dream of being a plastic surgeon. Even if they have no research, nearly failed their surgery rotation, and took 3 tries to pass step 1. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Don’t forget you can apply to match in multiple specialties. Give plastic surgery a try, but also submit an application to your second choice specialty, just in case. Even if you’re a competitive applicant, ranking only the top 3 internal medicine programs in the country can be a mistake. When deciding to rank a program or not you have to ask yourself, “Would I rather take a year off and do research than match here?” If the answer is no, then they should be on your list somewhere.