In January, fourth-year podiatric medical students traveled to Frisco, Texas for their long-awaited residency interviews. For students, the Centralized Residency Interview Process (CRIP) marks the culmination of a life-changing journey filled with highs, lows and everything in between. After four years of hard, diligent work, the thought that the fate of an additional three years of training lies in a number of short-lived interviews is a daunting one to say the least. However, as the pressure looms, it is easy to lose sight of what the CRIP represents: a process emblematic of the many things that make our profession “the best kept secret in medicine.”
My grandmother used to share an old Arabic adage: “Ask the experienced rather than the learned.” Being a recent podiatry school graduate, in hindsight, I believe the grueling week of centralized interviews is a strong suit of our profession.
In my experience, our allopathic and osteopathic medical student colleagues admire podiatry’s CRIP system. MD and DO students must travel to every hospital they want to interview at in order to reasonably rank each respective program. This may cause the student to potentially accrue thousands of dollars in travel expenses. In fact, a study in Academic Medicine from 2016 revealed that the average MD or DO student traveled to 12.3 interviews.1 Additionally, about 20 percent of surgery applicants spent over $7,000 in the process. In contrast, the majority of podiatric medical students travel only to Frisco, Texas for interviews, incurring travel and lodging expenses for just one trip.
Furthermore, the CRIP allows for an environment in which podiatry students can more easily make side-to-side comparisons of residency programs as all the interviews are lumped into a few days. Conversely, MD and DO students must stagger interviews over a longer period of time, making it potentially harder to compare those programs. Podiatric medical students have the benefit of asking questions and interacting with residents and attendings of various residencies over a shorter period of time, all within the confines of one location.
As match week approaches, it should be comforting to know that now is a great time to be a residency applicant in our field. According to a June 2019 press release by the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM), there were 572 applicants for residency from the Class of 2019 for a total of 597 active positions.2 Of the 572 applicants, all but one had matched at the time of the press release. An additional 25 applicants from prior graduating classes matched as well. In total, a whopping 99.8 percent of members of the Class of 2019 landed a residency spot by the end of June.2
In comparison, U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical student applicants to residency in 2019 had match rates of 93.9 and 84.6 percent respectively, according to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).3 Keep in mind that these statistics do not include osteopathic students who applied through the National Matching Services (NMS), the osteopathic match service.4 Nonetheless, if one were to adjust for those additional placements, podiatry school seniors would still enjoy the highest match rate for the 2019 cycle among these three applicant pools.
These statistics should serve as a calming force in the coming weeks as the match process comes closer to fruition for prospective first-year residents. As nerve-racking as the days to come may feel, my advice to the Class of 2020 is to cherish this moment for what it is: the pinnacle of one of many journeys to come. By this time next year, you will be navigating a completely different kind of journey and all that will remain of this moment will be the memories you make in the coming days.
Dr. Basatneh is a first-year podiatric surgery resident at the Detroit Medical Center. One can find Dr. Basatneh on social media via Instagram (@_podiatry) and Twitter (@RamiBasatneh).
1. Vassar L. Study examines what it costs to interview for medical residency programs. American Medical Association. Available at: https://www.ama-assn.org/residents-students/match/study-examines-what-it-costs-interview-medical-residency-programs . Published January 25, 2016. Accessed January 23, 2020.
2. American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine. 2019 residency placement status update – final report. Available at: http://www.casprcrip.org/html/casprcrip/pdf/PlacementUpdate.pdf . Published June 28, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2020.
3. National Resident Matching Program. Results and data. 2019 main residency match. Available at: https://mk0nrmp3oyqui6wqfm.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NRMP-Results-and-Data-2019_04112019_final.pdf . Published April 2019. Accessed January 23, 2020.
4. National Matching Services. 2019 statistical summary by college. Available at: https://natmatch.com/aoairp/stats/2019sklstats.html . Accessed January 23, 2020.