Too Much of Anything Is Bad: Advising Students on the Number of Programs to Apply to

By David Anthony, MD, MSc, Alec Chessman, MD, Kristina Duarte, MD, ScM, Katie Margo, MD, of Medicine Jacob Prunuske, MD, MSPH, and Martha Seagrave, PA-C.

This is in response to a previous blog post, How Faculty Can Prepare Students for the Match.

In an effort to address the increasing challenge of assisting students in obtaining family medicine positions in the Match, Michelfelder et al recently published a set of recommendations derived from discussions at sessions presented at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Conference on Medical Student Education (MSE) and the Association of Departments of Family Medicine Conference. We commend the authors on their important work, and we support many of their recommendations, including:

  • Encouraging increased communication between medical school advisors and program directors
  • Discouraging students who do not “see themselves as thriving as family physicians” from applying to family medicine programs

However, we take issue with one of their recommendations, and pose an alternate viewpoint.

The authors state that “Most clerkship directors recommend students apply to 20–40 programs to increase interview offers.” While this statement may represent the prevailing voiced opinion during the lecture discussion at MSE, we take issue with the claim that most clerkship directors recommend students apply to 20–40 programs, and we vigorously disagree with the recommendation. Broadly encouraging students to apply to such a large number of programs will worsen the challenges of students in obtaining interviews and residency positions.

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Staying Present in Chaos

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

Sarina Schrager, MD, MS

My house is full of 7th graders; it’s a big party to say goodbye to my son’s friend who is moving away. As I begin to fall asleep over my computer in the home office, I think about the chaotic nature of my job.

Earlier that day I was awoken at 1 am with the news that an obstetrics patient was ruptured, and the resident was going to start Pitocin. Great, I thought, now I won’t have to worry about her anymore and stress out about the planned induction for next week that I probably was not going to be able to go to because of clinic and after-school activities.

I couldn’t sleep after that call, so I went to the hospital at 5 am and worked in the call room until I had to come home to prepare for the 19 children coming to my house after school—all before my patient delivered.

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