Match Day is the celebration of the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) results, which seals the fate not only of future medical professionals, but of the program placements dedicated to supporting the acceleration of their careers.
Daniel Ricotta, MD, FHM, an academic hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, and an active SHM member since 2013, offers unique insight into the value of understanding both sides of this interview table.
As the associate program director of BIDMC’s Internal Medicine Residency Program and the director of Simulation Education at the Carl J. Shapiro Center for Education & Research, Dr. Ricotta is able to act on his passions for medical education and clinical care.
“I was attracted to the breadth of medicine and enjoyed learning everything,” Dr. Ricotta said. “I knew I wanted to do academic medicine and education, and I was able to get involved by working with students and residents early on in my career.”
A natural fit for his current roles, Dr. Ricotta has gained a unique perspective on the match process and how it has evolved since he began his residency nine years ago.
Preparing for Match Day includes an extensive checklist of life-altering to-dos that shape your career trajectory. Medical students must have noteworthy CV points, scholarly recommendations, stand-out interviews, and a thoughtful rank list – among many other things to consider throughout the course of the match. Dr. Ricotta said that while this application process has generally remained the same since his participation, he has noticed that the students themselves have changed.
“Students going into residency are more mature and further along professionally,” he explained. “I’ve seen more students go on to do something else for a while and have gained more experience. They’re taking time off for research or getting dual degrees.”
Additionally, according to Dr. Ricotta, students are applying to double the number of programs than in years past, and are even using technology to their benefit. Because interview slots are limited, some students set up “bot automation” to help lock in interviews.
Amidst what can feel like a free-for-all, Dr. Ricotta reminds his students that the match process is a two-sided relationship.
“I certainly didn’t realize how much work goes into recruitment when I was a student,” Dr. Ricotta admitted. “What students don’t think about is the amount of care that goes into trying to match students who share similar values, the mission, or are a good cultural fit.”
He went on to emphasize the importance of environmental compatibility.
“Go somewhere that you feel you will fit in. Where you will thrive,” he said. “Go somewhere that has a mission that resonates with your mission and think about your fellow applicants and potential mentorship. Could you see yourself being their classmate? Does this program have people there who can help you to achieve your goals?”
Keeping in mind questions like these, it is no surprise that because of hospital medicine’s scheduling flexibility and hands-on learning opportunities that more and more students are interested in exploring this specialty.
“What is amazing about hospital medicine is the ample opportunity for you to get involved earlier in your career and build from that,” he said. “There is more face time with patients, more training for medical students available, countless academic opportunities in research and scholarships, and even conferences.”
Because of the multiple career pathways available in hospital medicine, SHM aims to provide students and residents with professional tools and opportunities as early as possible to allow them to get a preview of what they can expect as a hospitalist – no matter which path they choose.
“SHM is about getting involved,” said Dr. Ricotta. “SHM encourages residents to become actively incorporated into the community through chapters, conferences, and other networking opportunities on both local and national levels. That’s really difficult to do as a resident.”
Whether you’re waiting on the NRMP® results this year or you are in the beginning stages of gathering your application materials, one thing is clear according to Dr. Ricotta, you’re not just an applicant number.
Are you a student interested in exploring a career in hospital medicine? SHM supports educational and professional needs at all stages of your career. When you join SHM during your residency training, you receive access to programs, resources, and opportunities that will enhance your skills and raise your professional profile. For more information about our Residents & Fellows membership opportunity, please visit: hospitalmedicine.org/residents.
Ms. Cowan is a marketing communications specialist at the Society of Hospital Medicine.