It’s that time of the year again; the time when every medical student in the country is required to submit their official Rank Order List (ROL) of the residency programs they hope to match. For students and programs, the deadline this year to SUBMIT & CERTIFY the ROL is February 22, 2012 before 9:00pm eastern time (ET).
To some, this process may be a life-changing prospect; to others, it may be just another chapter in their professional career. Nevertheless, this deadline, and ultimate commitment to a list of programs one has ranked by their personal preference, is nerve-wracking and often anxiety provoking.
Here is some advice:
1. Hopefully you have thought about the order of your programs by now and have some idea about your top 3 and bottom 3 programs. Everything in between will be difficult to sort out and may not ultimately make a difference in how happy you are at xyz program. Follow your gut feeling!
2. You will get great training at a majority of the programs in the country, which only makes your decision on the order more difficult. Reach out to your family, school faculty, friends, and significant other to see if they can offer some insight on location and lifestyle.
3. Submit and certify your ROL one week in advance, i.e., around February 15th. You don’t want to forget to submit (and certify) or wait until the last minute and risk technical problems, because the NRMP servers are clogged by 11th hour submissions and changes.
4. Even if you certify your ROL, you can still change the order of programs. Just make sure to re-certify! Every time you certify your list, you will get an email confirmation.
Like undergrad and medical school, this time of learning and personal growth will fly by, and you will find yourself in a similar position years from now as you search for fellowship positions or employment. Just by making it this far, we all know you are bright and careful with your decisions. As Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, “trust thyself.”