Communicating with Programs before the Match
What to make of Rank list Emails
As the rank list deadline comes closer, I see a lot of comments online and get questions on what to make of emails from programs. Some medical students ask if these emails even matter, if it’s bad they haven’t received many, should they send their own, and some wonder if it’s EVEN LEGAL. So this post will highlight some of my thoughts on communicating with programs after interviews and leading up to the rank list deadline.
Thoughts on communicating with programs before the Match!
I’ve made it pretty clear I’m a believer in thank you notes, preferably directly following your interview. However, in the month before the rank list is being finalized – there will be opportunities for more communication – both from the program and from you as an applicant. Some programs will do this more than others. Some programs will send very generically worded “thank you for interviewing, let us know if you have any other questions” emails, while others will fairly openly share your (positive) position on their ranking board. Many, many, send no communication at all.
My understanding of the rules is that is that it is fair game and allowed for you or a program to share that one is ranking the other highly. AS LONG AS, either does not ask for this in return or in any way try to pressure the other to change their rank (see an explanation below).
Using this understanding, I personally did email my top 3 programs and let them know I would be ranking them very highly. I strongly do not recommend telling more than one program they are your “number 1.” It’s still a small world and program directors talk, and you never know when burned bridges can haunt you as you look for jobs later. I also would not tell more than your top 3 or so that you are ranking them “very highly.”
As for programs themselves, I had several email me that I was ranked well on their list. Many sent no emails at all. Some I was excited about, others not as much. When reaching out to other programs, some reciprocated my interest, while others either didn’t reply or tampered my excitement a bit.
The bottom line is it’s ok for either to express interest, but neither can ask or pressure for a ranking in return. Most importantly, DO NOT allow any communication – positive or negative – to change your ranking order. Don’t do it!!! It doesn’t matter if you know you will definitely match at program X – if you rank another program higher and don’t get it – YOU WILL STILL MATCH at program X just as if you’d ranked it #1. So overall, I recommend trying to ignore program emails leading up to the match as much as possible. If you send out “intent to rank highly emails” don’t let the response sway you. No matter what…
STICK TO YOUR ORIGINAL RANKING LIST!
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