HealthMay 07, 2015

Matching into neurology: A “how to”

On the first day of my Neurology clerkship, I was prepping to see my first patient at the general outpatient clinic. As I looked at the chief complaint on the EMR, my jaw dropped from what I read:

“I see dead people.”

After running several scenes from The Sixth Sense through my head, I manned up and entered the room. Inside sat an elderly woman who I learned had been blind for the past 30 years. These “ghosts” were her long lost relatives, whom she described as being in 70s attire. She explained that they would “just walk around the house.” Though it was no big deal to her, her family was (understandably) a little creeped out. Long story short, she was diagnosed with Charles Bonnet syndrome. Her story was so fascinating that from that day onward, I was hooked on Neurology.

That night, I bought my first bowtie.

Neurology is sometimes considered the “black box” of medicine. It is both intimidating and awe-inspiring. It is existential, philosophical, and spiritual. The brain allows us to dominate our environment, separates us from less complex species, and interact with our loved ones. Even Michelangelo recognized the divinity of the brain (notice the brain behind God?). Very few other specialties can combine all these elements.

So now that you’ve decided on Neurology, I bet you’re excited (read: terrified, anxious, etc.) for the Match. The process is a ridiculous, mysterious, expensive algorithm, one that I am not even close to understanding (but did you know its developers won a Nobel Prize?!). Not to mention that this year’s stats are pretty daunting:

  • 41,334 total applicants applying for 30,212 spots
  • 147 neurology programs (both PGY1 and PGY2)
  • 717 neurology positions
  • 1,803 neurology applicants
  • 97.55% of spots filled
  • 230 avg. Step 1 score (2014)
  • 241 avg. Step 2 score (2014)
  • 3 research experiences
  • 13% were AOA (2014)

...But there’s great news! For those brave souls applying to Neurology, your chances of matching are pretty good. Plus the number of neurology spots are increasing every year (There were only 605 spots in 2011 and now, there are over 700)! All in all, I was lucky enough to match into a great program at a great location. Of course, I don’t claim to know EVERYTHING (or even close to everything) about matching into Neurology, but if you’d let me be your Neuro-Sherpa, we can climb this mountain together.

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