Friday, February 11, 2011


Okay, the topic of the post might sound misleading to most, but those who are aware of it, might agree.

I am taking about the San Francisco Match (or the SF Match, as we call it affectionately). There seems to be a surprising lack of resources for more information about this match and how it works. I have yet to see another website besides the official site (which is quite informative for a beginner) that has some information on the system.

First things first, this is NOT a match for match in California! In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with location whatsoever. A lot of people ask about whether you need a SSN or PTAL for this match. And the answer is NO.

This is just the same as the NRMP/ERAS match, except for the fact that its for certain fixed sub-specialties, and takes place earlier in the year.
Now since I matched for Child Neurology, that is what I'll talk about (even though the SF match also caters to other sub-specialties like NDD, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery etc)

Three Years of Child Neuro include one year of Adult.

What is Child Neurology and why am I talking about  it here?
Well to answer the latter first. I MATCHED! And want to spread the love! (Especially for IMGs who don't have a med school advisor, and rely on seniors and forums for all information!)

To answer the former, read on..

When can you get into it?
WHENEVER YOU WANT! (..Well almost!) There are a couple of separate pathways to get into Pedi Neuro. To make sure I don't give a wrong message, let me quote from the website:

"Prerequisite Training: The training can be initiated following one of three options:
(1) 2 years of residency training in pediatrics in the United States or Canada;  
(2) one PG-1 year (as described in the Program Requirements for Residency Education in Neurology**) and 1 year of residency training in pediatrics; or 
(3) 1 year of pediatrics plus 1 year of basic neuroscience training.
The program director must review and determine the acceptability of these initial two years of training."
** (Excerpt from the Neurology RRC Program Requirements (ACGME): 'Those that provide 4 years of residency training, the first year of which training (accredited in the United States or Canada) must include a broad clinical experience in general internal medicine. This year must include at least one of the following: (a) 8 months in internal medicine with primary responsibility in patient care or (b) 6 months in internal medicine with primary responsibility in patient care and a period of at least 2 months total time in pediatrics or emergency medicine or both. Residents must spend no more than 2 months in neurology during this year.'  
I am taking the first pathway, by entering Child Neurology as PGY-3 in 2013. (Does that clear it up a little?)

So, wait, its a Residency after residency, or a Fellowship ..or what? Huh?

Child Neurology, while technically is a fellowship level thing since you do it after a Peds Residency; it is considered a Residency by the Board. So basically, if you do Peds  then Child Neurology-- and end up taking both Boards-- you can be 'Double Board Certified' with 'Certification in Pediatrics' and 'Certification in Neurology with Special interest in Child Neurology'.
The Neurology Certification means you can practice adult neurology too (since you do have to spend one-third of your Child Neurology Residency in the Adult Year)
Then there's the opportunity to pursue a fellowship, in one of the many fields of interest like Epileptology, Neuromuscular disorders, Sleep medicine etc.

The Timeline:
Its an early match.
How early? Well, the process of submission of documents starts in June (as opposed to September, for ERAS).
- You mostly have interviews ranging from late-October and should finish by late-December (though I met someone who was finishing in mid-Jan, so that's how far it can go!)
- Then you submit the rank list by mid-Jan.
- And Match Day is usually in the last week of Jan. (It was January 27th this year!)

How many programs? 
There are not as many programs for Child Neurology as are for Pediatrics (doh!!). There are about 70 odd programs (--they give you the comprehensive list once you register for the match) . I applied to twenty five programs, and received interviews from thirteen places.

Most of the programs via the SF Match are for the three year Child Neurology i.e. beginning as a PGY-3. But programs prefer if their residents do both- Peds as well as Peds Neuro-- from their place, so they *usually* try to co-ordinate with the Peds Department. This means while they might try to interview you for Pediatrics as well (if you apply there via ERAS), it is NOT an obligation.
Now some places like Cleveland Clinic, Rainbow Babies etc have a dedicated five year track. Which means, if you get in the Child Neurology part of the track, you mostly get in for Pediatrics as well (again, through NRMP!)

Match Data:
While people might think that the competition is less in Pedi Neuro, let me assure you-- its a MYTH! There are about 1-3 spots per year per program. So the ratio for candidates per spot boils down to the same thing. Here is a link to last year's match data from the SF Match. So last year 69% IMGs matched, which is more than the average NRMP match percent, but definitely involves more of a commitment!

I know some IMGs might be tempted to apply just for the heck of it.

If that is your plan, then DON'T!

Here's a scenario:
Assuming, you apply for about 30 Child Neuro programs and a hundred-ish Peds programs. (I did.. since I wasn't sure I would be able to make it in Pedi Neuro this year). If you end up getting interviews in Pedi Neuro, then quite possibly your credentials are good enough and therefore you will get interviews for 'just-Pediatrics' as well.
Now, if you aren't sure if you want to go for Peds Neuro, then you might be in a fix since the match date is earlier. Your rank list is divided between the programs that invited you for both Peds/CN and the ones that have only Peds!
You might end up going to a specialty you aren't sure about (Pedi/Neuro) without giving a specialty you might love (eg Peds or IM) a chance!
[Basically what I'm trying to say is, applying to Peds Neuro is not like applying to say Family Med or Peds as a back up that I've seen a lot of Internal Medicine people do! Its a different ball game altogether]

Apply to the field only if you LOVE it! Since if more than just five years of your life.

I tried to cover everything that sporadically kept coming up in my head. More questions are welcome. I'll try to write another post if I have some common queries, or answer questions in comments.

Good luck!

PS: Hugs to one absolutely fantastic CN intern I met during my away rotations. She patiently helped me out a lot through the whole process, when I didn't know squat about You-Know-What! Thanks, S. x


  1. :-)

    SF match. Somehow, makes me feel "included" in this alien world of urs.
    That apart, do appreciate the effort you put in sharing ur hard-gained-knowledge here and making things easier for future generations!


  2. Nice one Arps....high five :)

    Cheers !

  3. congrats for the match....

    my doubt-- which one is more convenient

    1)peds residency , then ped-neuro fellowship

    or 2) 5-year child neurology.. what'll be the basic differences between these two paths??

  4. @Abhishek:

    By doing the 5-year track, you end up saving a year since you start right after two years of Peds (rather than three). Its 2+3 years.
    So its a good choice if you know initially that Peds Neuro is what you want to do eventually.

    Of course there is always the option of doing a Peds Neuro Fellowship after three year Peds. But its essentially the same thing as the Peds Neuro residency-- you have to apply for it via the SF match. Its not like doing Pedi Neuro after three years in peds will make it a 'Fellowship' rather than 'Residency'

    Convenience wise, its a personal choice. I would say matching now has been more convenient for me since I don't have to worry about going through the match process again. Also, I get to stay at the same place for Peds as well as Neuro residency.

    Some would find doing them separately more convenient as, you get three years of Peds.. so you become a more well rounded Pediatrician by the end of it. Plus, if you're not too sure of your choice, you can do a year or two of Peds.. explore other choices.. and decide.
    I met a lot of people on the interview trail who were already either PGY-1 or PGY-2 in peds and were taking this path.

    Hope that clears some things up.

  5. Arps,

    Congratulations and all the best wishes for the coming years. :-)

    Are you coming back to India after your stint overseas ?

  6. Arps,

    Congrats!!! It would be great help if you could you post the places you applied and interviewed.. Thanks

  7. Hi Arpita, Congrats!
    I have tons of questions so would like to email/IM you. I did MD Peds from Manipal in 2006 and am here now and am really into neurology. Things are going as planned and am getting geared up for the match.
    Tell me your email address or just shoot me an email on

  8. Shobhit: Thanks for the wishes man! Would not comment on plans that far ahead right now. Might change any moment :D

    Piyush: Regarding applying, I applied to about 25 places and interviewed at about ten. (I fee the choice of places is kind of personal, so don't want to list here. Hope you understand)

    @MM: Wow! MD Peds :D I'll send you an email.

  9. That s fine. All the best for your residency!!!!

  10. Arps,

    How to apply for first 2 years of peds residency? Is there anything like peds prelim that we need to apply along with child neuro through ERAS? The SF match website has hardly any info. I would appreciate if can give some info on how to coordinate for the 1st two years ofs peds residency.


  11. @Piyush:
    There is indeed the option for applying for Peds Prelim in ERAS. But you don't have to choose it for most programs.
    When applying to Peds in Programs where you've applied for CN as well, the best idea would be to see the Pedi Neuro website (or check with the CN PC) and find out if they have any special requirements regarding applying.
    Eg: UT Houston wants all CN applicants to apply via Peds prelim and they make it very clear on their site. While Cleveland Clinic (most probably) needs you to apply for categorical.

    When in doubt, apply for categorical Peds since Prelim does not apply for CN at most places.

    Now for places where you are applying ONLY for Peds (and not CN), apply for categorical. But it would be wise during interview to ask them if they would take you for two years. (Most places would say no, but some might agree if they like you).
    While 9 out of 10 chances if you match at a place for CN, you'd match there itself for Peds. But if you don't, and end up matching at a place where you interviewed only for CN (and not Peds), then you can also ask other *only Peds* places if they would still be willing to take you for two years.

    Its all very confusing. But works out in the end. Good luck!

  12. Thanks! That helps a lot. Sorry for bothering you, will it be fine if I ask you further questions if required during the process of application?

  13. @Piyush: Sure. I'll try to answer your questions as much as I can.

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  17. i wanted to add- for those who are applying CN match 2012.. you can find info abt it on and perhaps for match 2013 it might be just in ERAS( hopefully).
    Thanks arpita :)

  18. Arpita, If i may ask, what were your scores and what score is ideal to get matched into a CN program? Also, what are the chances that if I match for a CN, That the program will accept me as a Prelim Ped resident through the NRMP/ERAS match.





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