Match tips from the Student Affairs team at UBC

Do you know the “bread and butter” of your chosen specialty?

Winson Cheung Self Photo CA headshot 2016By: Winson Cheung, Director of Career Planning, University of British Columbia, and
Carol-Ann Courneya, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, University of British Columbia

From the Student Affairs perspective, the CaRMS match is an exhilarating time because we get to see students we have met and helped over the past four years pursue the next phase of their career.

One of the consistent tips that we give our students going into the match is to always have a back-up or parallel plan, and to start considering this plan as early as possible.

At the University of British Columbia, we encourage our students to shadow preceptors in disciplines that they are considering—even in the pre-clinical years. That way they can enter the CaRMS match years later as informed as possible. Shadowing also helps to provide insights as to whether a specialty is right for them or not, and it can further introduce them to disciplines that may serve as a great parallel plan.

Recently, we have encouraged students to focus not only on the new and exciting parts of a specialty, but to also consider asking their preceptors specific questions about the “bread and butter” of the specialty. This enables students to get the most out of their shadowing experience and to learn more about the routine and sometimes less appealing parts (or bread and butter!) of a specialty during the short time that they share with a preceptor.

Our advice to consider a parallel plan is particularly important for students who are thinking about applying to competitive specialties, participating in the match as a couple, or limiting themselves to specific programs or geographical locations for personal reasons. In these scenarios, the risk of being unmatched could be higher.

We also always encourage students who are uncertain or concerned about their application to meet or chat with us personally. Some students are not always fully aware of how the Match Algorithm works and what their rank order list means. The pressure that some students feel from their peers can be overwhelming.

Sometimes a bit of clarity about how the match works is enough for students to change or optimize their CaRMS application strategy and increase the chance of success.