It’s that time of the year again: are you ready for Match time??
There’s no good way of putting it, the Veterinary Internship & Residency Matching program is stressful for everyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time applying or you’re a seasoned Matching pro.
If it’s your first time applying through the veterinary matching program, you likely have no idea what you’re getting into. Luckily, the VIRMP website does a fairly good job of explaining things, but the whole process is still confusing. One of the most important things is to pay attention to their front page, as it clearly shows all the important dates and deadlines! Add it to your favorites so you can check it as frequently as you want, or add the dates to your calendar. Keep in mind that the dates change slightly from year to year!
What to do now
There’s really nothing to do until October 12th, as all the programs are not going to be posted until then. If you check now, there will be a few program descriptions that you can look into, but unless you’re willing to check every day for new programs, there’s no point in doing that.
What should I do in the meantime?
Start working on your letter of intent, look at your rotation schedule, and identify potential letter-writers (this should have been happening since you started senior year!). Obviously, things will be different for those applying to internships versus specialty internships or residencies. The latter are going to be much more competitive, simply because there will be a lot less positions. You should also start thinking about what to include in your personal statement.
The VIRMP website offers statistics regarding the number of applicants and programs available, withdrawn applicants and programs, matched and unmatched applicants, and position match rate. They also show you the data separated by specialty for both internships and residencies.
Based on the 2018 match data, the internship applicant match rate was 64.12% (up from 61.57% last year), while the residency match rate was 30.7% ( from 31.32% in 2017). Keep in mind these are overall numbers and include all internship and residency categories. Looking at the position match rate (ie. how many of the total number of positions were filed during the match), there was a 67.09% match rate for internships and 90.86% for residencies. The majority of the remaining positions are filled either through the scramble (read our other posts and/or our in-depth guide on the Match to learn more!).
This information was not available when I applied through the match. While it would have been nice to see what happened in the previous years, I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently. Thus, even though these are not necessarily going to change how you approach the match, it can give you an idea of how many people you’ll be competing with for a position.
Who should I ask to write my letters of reference?
This will depend on if you are applying for internships or residencies. Letters for a residency need to be stronger as programs are going to choose and train you for 3 years (for most residencies), versus 1 year for an internship. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need strong letters for internships, simply that letters are evaluated differently. Also – who should write the letters – ie for an internship it is ideal to have someone in your field of interest but not required, while for residency you should have at least one or two.
You should identify people that will write you a letter in strong support of your application. For this to happen, you’ll want to work closely with a faculty member and let them know in advance what your goals are. Don’t wait until the end of the rotation to let them know! You want them to pay close attention to your abilities, client communication, knowledge base, paperwork, etc. This will increase the chances of a good letter.
Don’t miss part two here!
If you are looking for the only in-depth guide on the veterinary matching program, with virtually all the information you need to know about the whole process and how to best prepare, make sure to check our ebook, How to Navigate the Matching Program!