Generally, second look visits should be viewed as opportunities for applicants to get a better look at the program, and not as a means to increase one’s odds of matching to the program. Because of cost and time issues, most applicants do not partake in second visits. If you are considering a visit, you should try to feel out during the interview whether or not post-interview visits are welcomed. Unfortunately, some programs may view such requests as a nuisance. If you are unsure, you can always email a resident from the program to get an idea. There are a few programs (they will make it blatantly obvious during the interview) that recommend that genuinely interested applicants return for a second day visit; in these cases a second look will likely help in matching to that program.
CONSTRUCTING YOUR RANK LIST?
Rank programs in the order of your preference, NOT how you feel the program will rank you. By ordering your program list this way, you will maximize your chances of landing your top spot and in no way will you jeopardize your likelihood of matching to other programs. As already mentioned, do not let flattering positive post-interview contact by programs influence your ranking. Follow link for description of the NRMP match algorithm.
Many find it helpful to use a running ranking system during the interview season to help make the final ranking easier. Refer to “Keeping program impressions fresh” for further discussion.
The NRMP match outcome is a legally binding employment agreement. Do not rank programs that you do not want to attend. Since it is extremely difficult to successfully scramble for the 0-2 spots left each year, the obvious question to ask when deciding whether or not to rank a program is “would I rather attend the program than go unmatched this year?”
Make sure that you rank enough programs to match. One of the most common reasons that outstanding applicant go unmatched is they are too selective in ranking programs. While there are no guarantees, clearly the more programs that you rank, the higher your chances are of a match. The data suggests that if you don't match by your 12th to 14th spot, you are unlikely to match at all. Bottom line, rank at least 12 spots, but ranking beyond 20 positions probably won't change anything for you.
The issue of post-interview communication between the medical student and program often raises many questions on the part of the applicant. The match rules specify that the applicant can relay any information to any program, but cannot solicit or expect reciprocation of intent.
Is it a good idea to tell a program that you are ranking them high, or number 1? The short answer is that it probably won’t hurt and it may potentially help. Although information regarding how far down a rank list the program goes to match residents is confidential, many programs pride themselves internally on this metric. And of course every program likes to hear they are an applicant’s top pick. However, depending on the program, such information may not change how you are ranked.
If you do decide to tell a program you are ranking them number 1, be true to your word and of course do not tell this to more than 1 program. Beyond issues of personal integrity, you will get burned. The ENT community is small and such information will resurface, if not during the match then later down the road.
Finally, do not let a neutral email correspondence or a flattering phone call change your rank list. Most program directors follow the match rules closely and will often give a neutral response even if you are high on their list. Some programs make a habit of contacting their top draft picks while other programs do not. As outlined earlier, you should rank programs in the order of where you would like to match, not in order of how you think they liked you or where you think you have the best shot. Following this rule will give you the best chance to match at the best program.
Match Countdown… Stop looking at this clock and go do something fun...