Making Your Rank List

Amiethab Aiyer, MD | Matthew Varacallo, MD

February 23, 2022


It’s that time of year again!   Match season is upon us!  Although this process can be very stressful, we have several tips and tricks to keep in mind when fine tuning and submitting your rank list.  

1Training atmosphere and resident camaraderie  

The holy grail is finding a program with top notch resident interactions, friendships, and an overall positive teaching and training environment .  There will always be a hierarchy that must be respected but there should never be an environment that fosters bullying and hazing. 

2Hands on experiences

Busy trauma programs, sleepless call nights, and getting the knife early — which matter most to you?  It’s not all about cutting. Yes, you do need some degree of autonomy as you move along in training, but you would be surprised the skills you learn from first or second assisting many different attendings approaches and specialty cases.  You can learn from every single case.  Also, consider training programs with and without fellowship programs and pay attention to how the resident and fellow interactions play out in the clinic and OR.

3Research infrastructure

Is it better to go to a program that has several research assistants that can carry you through a project start to finish OR is it better to learn the concepts yourself and generate a manuscript from scratch with active involvement in all parts of the process?  The answer is up to you!  We can tell you that the latter is more work on your part so make sure you are honest with yourself because you will be busy as a resident!

4Location, location, location

Not just a real estate concept.  Family wishes; a city you love; social environment; or the perfect weather all year round – geographical considerations must be thoughtfully and honestly evaluated by every future resident.

5Academics and program reputation

Remember that every great program has a great alumni network, and this can be one critical factor in helping you secure the fellowship of your dreams and finding a job once you are done with training.  

6Miscellaneous concepts to consider

This category includes parking, salary, cost of living, cafeteria perks, In house vs home call vs backup call. These will vary from program to program.   Some programs will have most rotations at one main facility, while others you will be driving around and have rotations and 5-10 different hospitals.  One is not necessarily better than the other!  You can gain invaluable insight by rotating at many different hospitals and learning how different systems work – but, again be honest with how you best learn when deciding the importance of this feature.

Last, but not least (and most importantly) — always remember that the most important program is the one to which you match.  Regardless of where you match — most program offer similar training experiences and your residency experience will always come down to one simple concept — you get out what you put in!


DISCLOSURES: Dr. Aiyer American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: Board or committee member, Delee & Drez Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support, Medline: Paid consultant, Medshape: Paid consultant, Miller’s Review of Orthopaedics (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support Dr. Varacallo This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2022 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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