NRMP Says: Rank Them How You Want Them

President and CEO of the NRMP, Mona M. Signer, talking with Medscape:

I certainly understand why applicants and programs engage in post-interview communication, but applicants and program directors shouldn’t create their rank-order list on the basis of post-interview communication from the other party. They ought to create their rank-order list based on their true preferences. Applicants should rank the programs where they want to train in order of preference, not where they think they will match. Program directors should rank applicants in order of preference, not the applicants with whom they think they will match. The matching algorithm works best when Match participants rank each other in order of true preference.

YES. Seriously people. I would also add that people shouldn’t create their ROL based on communication (or assurances) during the interview, either.

After all these years, some students and programs still think there should be other considerations to the ROL. But there aren’t. It shouldn’t really matter what the other side wants in this system. It matters what you want. It’s your list.


From “The Residency Match: Interview Experiences, Postinterview Communication, and Associated Distress” in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education:

In terms of postinterview communication, more than 70% of respondents indicated that they wished such communication were explicitly discouraged, and more than half said they wanted programs to bar candidates from notifying them of a high rank in order to avoid match manipulation.

There are no positives to the ego-stroking, play-acting, and intermittently grossly-misleading game that programs (and applicants) play. Everyone wants to be loved and get their top choices, but the only communication that should really have any impact (or be permissible) is new information:

  • My spouse early-matched to a program at your institution.
  • My mother has become ill, and I truly hope to end up in your city so that I can help take a greater role in her care.
  • I just won the lottery, and there is a significantly increased risk of me not completing your grueling program.

Though the NBME allows everyone to dance, the best advice will always be rank them how you want them.

Review: Proscan’s MRI Online

MRI Online is an advanced (MRI focused) online radiology video platform offered by Dr. Stephen J Pomeranz, who is primarily a musculoskeletal radiologist. Just one dude. This in contrast to most online offerings in radiology, which are typically recorded board reviews or CME lectures from the big popular courses at places Stanford, Hopkins, Duke etc. Multiple folks talking about multiple topics. Those production values tend to be relatively low because they’re typically recorded from normal in-person talks with the best of intentions (but without the best of audio engineering).

I was recently offered the chance to check out MRI online. I had the intention of spending time with it to help with studying for the certifying exam, but then I ended up not studying. That’s a separate story.



There are several different kinds of content: “Mastery series” lectures are divided into digestible 5-10 minute chunks. “Lecture series” are more typical hour-long lectures (some of these are a bit older). “Courses on Demand,” which are recordings of in-person case reviews (my least favorite). And lastly, “Power Packs,” which are interactive PACS-integrated cases with questions and explanations (but no video).


MRI Online uses the Teachable platform, which is basically what every new course you’ve seen advertised on Facebook uses. Teachable is simple to use, especially well-suited for video courses, and produces a clean product, so there’s no secret why.

There are pre- and post-tests available, but these tend to be short little multiple choice deals (often text-only). Nothing special there. This is definitely not aiming to be a q-bank.

More importantly, Teachable videos have the ability to be sped up, so you can pick your pace accordingly.

What separates MRI Online from just about every other product out there is that the case review components are integrated with an online PACS. You can review the cases (scroll through stacks, multiple sequences, window/level, etc.), read them cold, and then essentially go through them with Pomeranz or with a written explanation. It’s interactive. It’s practical. It’s reflective of real practice. It’s basically like being a resident or fellow, except that you’re on your own pace, the cases are carefully curated, and your teacher isn’t too busy to teach. It’s pretty neat.


Pricing is a bit of a mixed bag.

The in-training price is actually pretty reasonable ($50/month or $500/year). In particular, if you have plans to do an MSK mini- or real fellowship, going through MRI Online would be a great introduction and much less painful than Requisites. For cost reasons, I think any trainee is probably going to buy on a month by month basis when they have time and not to fork out for the year.

(Talk about responsive, the price for fellows used to be $100/month. When I commented that fellows don’t really make significantly more than residents, they dropped the price a week later)

While there’s also a lot of content for neuro (and some prostate), I think most people probably wouldn’t need to buy more than a month if your focus is non-MSK. Proscan tells me they’re adding tons more non-MSK content this year, so I imagine that’s likely to change.

The price for folks out in practice gave me a bit more sticker shock at first: $150/month or $1500/year. That said, you do need CME, lots of practices do provide CME funds, and course reviews and conferences are generally even more expensive and not amenable to pajamas. MRI Online provides real ACCME CME credits, which for the price are actually a bargain depending on how hard you pound your subscription.

I wouldn’t pretend to have the ability to compare and contrast any of the huge number of course reviews that exist in radiology, but MRI Online is definitely better than a lot of conference talks I’ve gone to at RSNA, ASNR, WNRS, ABCD, and WXYZ.

Here’s where the usual negotiated discount/affiliate stuff comes in:

Code BW_TRAINEE gets you 10% off ($45/month or $450/year) and BW_ATTENDING gets you 10% off ($135/month or $1,350/year).

The annual subscription also includes a free MRI anatomy atlas as well as free attendance at a 3-day MSK MRI course held annually in Cincinnati. They tell me the vast majority of subscribers are annual, not monthly.

Free Samples

There’s a free online MSK mini-course with a sample of cases (that you would need to sign up to take).

There are also sample videos for each course (e.g. shoulder, hip) that you can watch without logging in, as well as sample cases for basically every course. You’ll get a history, review the cases in the diagnostic viewer, then answer a multiple choice question about them. The explanations have annotated lesions and a relatively concise readable description.

They also provide a full free 7-day trial, which is a real steal for trainees or for focused test-prep.

Bottom line is that there are plenty of no-risk opportunities to check it out. There’s lots of totally free content and no bait-and-switch in sight. I wish more companies were this transparent.


MRI Online is actually an impressive and pretty expansive product, particularly for MSK, but also with hours of content for neuro and body. In addition to solid review, I’d definitely consider signing up again if I changed practices and needed to expand my toolset.

What I read in 2018

This is the fifth time I’ve published my book diet for the year (though admittedly a few days late). It’s a pretty eclectic mix this year, and I’m happy to report I did manage to squeeze in a few classics amidst my steady diet of not-so-classics. Not gonna lie, Gilgamesh (humankind’s earliest surviving written story) is kinda awesome. I did fail in my promise to myself to stop reading anything approaching pop-pseudo-psychology and self-help. I keep telling myself it’s because it’s background for all the writing on the topic I have planned, but it’s really a poor excuse.

This number is also totally inflated because I decided to include a few things from Audible that not only did I not “read” but aren’t exactly even books. Audible recently started giving members two free “Audible Originals” downloads every month, which are a combination of short books, plays, and…episodic treatments of a theme? Either way, they’re neat! (And audible is still offering two free books when you sign up.)

  1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss (This book is so frequently referenced and has generated so much copycat drivel that I’m shocked I hadn’t read the actual source before. Unfortunately, you can’t be a practicing physician in 4 hours a week, and most of the other insights I liked have remained unchanged since the time of the ancient Stoics.)
  2. The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement by Cory S. Fawcett (I wouldn’t mind retiring to write books either; writing them while gainfully employed is hard work!)
  3. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell (I wouldn’t want to live in Scandinavia, but I would like their social benefits please)
  4. Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef (Nanoism and I get a shoutout and a couple of reprints in the final chapter, which is neat)
  5. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport (Along with Deep Work, Newport has written two of the least cringe-worthy entries in the productivity/self-help genre. I don’t regret reading either one.)
  6. American Sniper by Chris Kyle
  7. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
  8. SP4RX by Wren McDonald (‏One thing that I love about graphic novels is how different art styles can inform and reflect the story. Grabbing a random new one off the shelf is always fun when I take my son to the library)
  9. Can’t and Won’t (Stories) by Lydia Davis (it took me over a year reading this book in small chunks to get through it. Had high hopes, as I tend to enjoy (and of course publish) very short stories. Ultimately many of the shortest ones felt empty, while the longer ones generally felt somewhat plodding and maybe even indulgent?)
  10. Island by Aldous Huxley (a treatise on the benefits of Buddhism and magic mushrooms loosely masquerading as a story. Brave New World it is not.)
  11. Dockwood by Jon McNaught (beautiful, unique art, almost like a nearly silent film; very short graphic novel (really two graphic short stories) but so quietly depressing).
  12. Mooncop by Tom Gauld
  13. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
  14. How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields (ugh. answer = buckets)
  15. Catch Me if You Can by Frank W. Abagnale (fascinating)
  16. Stephen Colbert’s Midnight Confessions (Weak. I did almost belly laugh once though. I also read it in Barnes and Noble for free, so well worth the price of admission).
  17. The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein (awesome near-future techno-romp)
  18. Spell or High Water by Scott Meyer (Magic 2.0 #2)
  19. First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson by Simon Schwartz
  20. Buzz! by Ananth Panagariya and Tess Stone
  21. An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer (Magic 2.0 #3)
  22. Fight and Flight by Scott Meyer (Magic 2.0 #4) (Ugh this was so weak compared to the first three.)
  23. Ikigai by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia (I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more terrible self-help Audible daily deals, but I’m a sucker for Japanese wisdom. This was really terrible but at least mercifully short)
  24. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (a unique trip, novels within novels *inception horn*)
  25. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White (I think this my third re-read)
  26. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
  27. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster (published in 1909! probably the inspiration for WALL-E)
  28. Consciousness and the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene (not the fastest or easiest read, but a fascinating one nonetheless. His writing for a general audience is much more palatable than his papers from the 90s and early 2000s I read during one of my college seminars).
  29. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  30. Infinite by Jeremy Robinson (I thought this was an awesome sci-fi thriller thingie)
  31. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (highly recommended, particularly if you liked the Curious Incident)
  32. What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard P. Feynman
  33. Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (Robots #1)
  34. The Sky Below by Scott Parazynski
  35. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov (Robots #2)
  36. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov (Robots #3)
  37. You Do You by Sara Knight (her first book was far funnier and superior)
  38. Out of Spite, Out of Mind by Scott Meyer (Magic 2.0 #5)
  39. Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
  40. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (I read this so many years ago that it took me a few chapters to realize I’d already read it! A true science fiction classic)
  41. Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for Ultrahuman Protection by Alexander C. Kane (fun!)
  42. Outcasts of Order by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (I don’t know if I’m just getting older, but the writing in this subseries is more repetitive and the characters more two-dimensional than I seem to remember. Nonetheless, Modesitt may always be my guilty pleasure.)
  43. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (really good! Arthur C. Clarke Award winner)
  44. Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson
  45. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  46. No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin
  47. Misbehaving by Richard Thaler
  48. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive #3) (#4 please…)
  49. Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
  50. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines (If I could see deep inside myself, I’d still never know why I read this)
  51. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (This is an excellent [the best?] book on negotiating. Probably should be a must-read for every graduating resident)
  52. One Doctor by Brendan Reilly (This is a beautiful doctor memoir. It really is lovely. Reilly also deftly weaves in the frustrations and issues with the changes in the practice of American medicine deftly and with excellent perspective).
  53. You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham (by the creator of the software of the same name)
  54. Bushido Online: The Battle Begins by Nikita Thorn (I can’t fully express how utterly silly and fun this book is. It’s a LitRPG. I didn’t know what a LitRPG was before, but it’s basically a book where the action and character development occurs like a roleplaying game. People have hitpoints. Gain abilities. Go on quests. It’s just so adorably goofy.)
  55. Bushido Online: Friends and Foes by Nikita Thorn
  56. The Coming Storm by Michael Lewis
  57. Girls and Boys by Dennis Kelly
  58. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #2)
  59. Boomerang by Michael Lewis
  60. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  61. Laid Waste by Julia Gfrorer
  62. “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” By Richard P. Feynman (I feel like if I had a spirit animal, it would have been Feynman.)
  63. This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (a diary version of the medical coming-of-age tale. You know the end before it starts, but it’s still a good ride with some laugh out loud funny bits. It was also neat to make sense of how training works in the UK)
  64. Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs
  65. No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvi
  66. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
  67. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (not great even as far as super-powered YA goes, but when I discovered that Lore is a pen-name for a group of writers including literature’s greatest modern liar [James Frey], I was curious).
  68. Zero G by Dan Wells
  69. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell (Why do I keep reading this tripe??)
  70. Victorian Secrets by Stephen Fry
  71. The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi (The Interdependency #2)(I really enjoyed this one. Has some echoes of Asimov’s Foundation but written with foul-mouthed contemporary style and pacing)
  72. Out of My Mind by Alan Arkin (um, this was odd and meh)
  73. Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

I’ve read some long books over the years, but Sanderson’s 1248-page epic Oathbringer was a monster.

I have so many unread books on the shelf it’s almost embarrassing (I practice the art of Tsundoku), and also I really want to finish writing book #4 this year—I need to get to work!

Student Loans Books: Free Forever

When I began the project that eventually resulted in my two books on student loans, my long-term plan was to sell them temporarily, recoup some of the incredible time (and opportunity cost) burden of putting them together, and then eventually release them for free.

I’m happy to say that day is finally here.

From now on, you can always download the Kindle, epub, and pdf versions of Medical Student Loans and Dealing with Student Loans for free right here.

To receive your copy, you’ll need to sign up for my email list, and if you’re not interested in actually hearing from me again (which is totally fine), then just hit the unsubscribe link in the very first line of the email. (Okay, I admit I still haven’t actually started my newsletter yet, so I don’t have any gauge of how good it will be; the plan is quarterly [maybe?] starting 2019).

In order to subsidize the cost of giving these downloads away, I’ve brought on a sponsor. I want you to know that even though there will now be a single ad on a single page of this site (up from the current number of zero), there is no absolutely no tracking or cookies or anything of any kind. Ever. Because that makes the internet worse.

When I thought about who to bring on for the first sponsor, I may have left some cash on the table, but I specifically did not want to bring in a student loan refinancing company. While I have a relationship with most of them, these books are not about refinancing. That’s one chapter, which is a topic frankly not that interesting nor confusing, and I have no interest in endorsing one company over the nearly identical others within the context of this meticulously researched text, even by semi-passive association. So I instead reached out to Larry Keller.

If you ever read any of the sites in the proliferating physician finance blogosphere, you’ll certainly have seen Larry’s face, as he has done a ton to support doctors writing (about money) online. He specializes in disability and term life insurance—the former every doctor absolutely needs and the latter basically every doctor with a family needs—and he’s one of the good guys: an independent agent who knows what he’s doing and isn’t going to try to sell you whole life insurance. I also picked Larry for the first major sponsor of this site because he’s actually my insurance agent, so I can honestly recommend him without reservation.

But most importantly, I’m happy these books are free for the long term. I wrote them first and foremost to help as many people as possible, and making them free forever is the biggest part of that. While they say “student loans” in the title, these are also a good introduction to a decent chunk of personal finance for young doctors and other professionals.

So, learning about student loans and basic personal finance will cost you a few hours and not a dime. And, if you’re on the fence about the time, let me leave you with a quote from a recent review by Dr. James Dahle, author of The White Coat Investor:

[Dr. White] does a fantastic job though; I wish I had written the book. But more than that, I wish every medical school required it to be read before you could receive your first student loan.

Download your copy today.

Journey to the ABR Certifying Exam

If there is little information online about the ABR Core Exam, there is essentially none about the Certifying Exam. After several years, the only nuggets on the grapevine were that it was easy, nobody has ever failed, and you might as well do all your selected modules in the field of your fellowship.

All of that is probably true. But just as diagnostic imaging for pulmonary embolism in the ER is always indicated, more information is always better, right? Continue reading