For those of you who are not aware, Match Day is the day that U.S. medical students (and foreign medical graduates applying for residency positions in the United States) learn where they will be going for internship and residency the following year. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is the entity that coordinates the Match Day process. It begins in the summer of the previous year, when students begin filling out the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) application. They are allowed to submit it after September 1 to programs of their interest. Programs invite applicants for interviews between November and January. After interview season, applicants rank programs on a Rank Order List (ROL) which they submit to NRMP by the end of February. At the same time, programs rank all the applicants they interviewed. Between the end of February and the middle of March, NRMP runs a computer program with the Match algorithm to determine where each applicant matched, and the results are revealed in the middle of March.
The Week of the Match
The Match week follows the same pattern each year. The schedule for the 2009 Match is as follows: on Monday, March 16, applicants are notified by email or on the Web whether or not they matched to some program. They are not notified which program. If they did not match for an preliminary / intern year, advanced position, or categorical position, they will enter the Scramble in an attempt to secure a spot that went unfilled in the regular Match (a topic for another post). By noon on Tuesday, March 17, the list of unfilled programs is released. Match Day ceremonies at medical schools across the nation on Thursday, March 19. At my institution, the basic schedule is: class photo at 10am, speeches til 11am, at which point a board with all our results in envelopes is brought out. At 11, we all rush to the board and rip open our envelopes to find out the results. In the afternoon, there is a party at our Dean's house, followed by a class party that night. Now, for comparison, some other schools have an even more formal ceremony, where each student goes on stage, walks across to a Dean, who hands them an envelope. The student is then required to open the envelope and read the results to the entire audience of classmates, teachers, family, and friends. I am not a fan of that approach. Not only is the process longer, I feel it also violates the student's privacy and right to divulge that information in the manner he or she sees fit. Regardless, most people will be happy enough with the result after four long years of hard work.
Match Day Gift List
Now, for all those family and friends gathered, this is a time of celebration for the soon-to-be M.D. What gift is most appropriate? Frankly, I do not know since the event is still a week away for me, but if anyone out there wants to buy me something, here are some ideas! Heh, I will try to suggest things that I think are generally applicable and hopefully useful for a future intern.
Interns work long hours. It's just a fact. And given that fact, interns drink coffee. Lots of it. What better gift than a single cup than a Black & Decker Personal Coffeemaker with Travel Mug? They are not going to get through morning report without it.
After working all those long hours, interns and residents need something to kick back and relax. How about a Nintendo Wii Console? Or, if they already have one, maybe get them something to play on it, like Rock Band 2. The Wii is especially nice since it requires one to be marginally more active than with other consoles, which interns can use to fool themselves into thinking they exercised for the day.
Of course, internship is not all fun and games. There is a lot of reading to be done. But, not all of it has to be of the "Harrison's" / Pocket Medicine kind. For the latest in reading technology, check out Amazon's Kindle 2. As thin as a magazine, and about as light, the Kindle lets you wirelessly download e-books and read them anywhere. While the cost of the Kindle is a bit pricey, the average cost per book is cheaper (about $10). Also, the books download to your Kindle almost instantaneously, so no waiting at a bookstore or waiting for something to ship. While it may be premature now, I think this is truly the wave of the future as far as how we access printed (e-printed?) materials.
A particularly useful title (that is actually available on the Kindle) is Personal Finance For Dummies. Now, I picked the title because I have enjoyed the 'Dummies' series in the past, but I cannot say I have used this book in particular. My point in including this title is that, for many interns/residents, this is their first real job. Yet, for all their knowledge of medicine, many know very little about personal finance. It is especially important to educate one's self about these issues, as one not only begins to earn a salary but also has to begin repaying student loans. So, while not the 'sexiest' gift, a book on personal finance could turn out to be the most useful.
And, since another 4 years have passed, it may be time for a new laptop. Just a thought =) You reading this, Dad??
While clearly not a comprehensive list, hopefully this gives you a few ideas on some practical gifts for the newly Matched loved one in your life.