A Proposal to Address the Increasing Number of Residency Applications
While Katsufrakis and colleagues offer some potential solution in their Commentary, one aspect they overlook is that the Match consists of only one phase. Since both programs and applicants have to go “all in” during the Match, this incentivizes applying to as many programs as possible and interviewing as many applicants as possible. Another potential solution would be to conduct a first phase or “early decision” match whereby applicants would be limited to ranking only a small number of programs—say, five—while programs could rank only two or three applicants per available position. This “early decision phase” which could be open in October and November would force applicants to focus only on the programs to which they feel they are best suited and also encourage programs to interview only those applicants who they believe would be at the top of their list. Once the early decision period concludes, all open positions and unmatched students would continue through the regular match with interviews occurring mid-December through January, which is ample time for applicants and programs to move ahead in preparation for the regular match.
While not a perfect solution, an “early decision” phase would allow selected applicants and programs the chance to find that right fit without the noise of a mountain of other applications as well as reduced cost for many applicants and programs.