We are grateful to Dr Hill for his letter and support of the Postdoctoral Dental Match. Is there an orthodontist who is not thankful for the specialty education that he or she has received? Is there an orthodontist who is not hopeful that our specialty will continue to flourish during the next century?
Make no mistake, the future of our specialty rests squarely in the arms of our residency programs. The quality of education our residents receive dictates the long-term success of our specialty and the quality of care provided to our patients.
Make no mistake, the success of each orthodontic program rests squarely in the arms of its faculty. Every day, faculties should strive to strengthen their programs—strive to make them the best orthodontic programs in the world.
Participating in the orthodontic Match strengthens each program and our specialty by promoting good competition. Why? It is a domino effect. By participating in the Match, orthodontic programs agree to a fixed candidate acceptance date: early December. Candidates have time to interview at programs of interest during the fall and rank their preferred programs. Stronger programs get ranked higher, and weaker programs must work to strengthen the education they provide to be more competitive. If all programs competed by participating in the Match, our specialty would be elevated, as would the quality of care orthodontists provide.
Not participating in the Match weakens programs and our specialty by promoting bad competition. Why? Non-Match programs do not have a fixed acceptance date. Instead, they compete by pressuring candidates to accept positions as early as September and by requiring candidates to withdraw from the Match. Candidates, eager to specialize, accept these non-Match positions and are deprived of the opportunity to evaluate and rank other programs. Unlike Match programs, there is no incentive for non-Match programs to improve to attract candidates. Non-Match programs simply fill their classes by recruiting and making offers earlier and earlier. If all programs chose to gain an unfair advantage as non-Match programs do, then our specialty would gradually decline along with the quality of patient care we provide.
So, where do we go from here? Each orthodontic residency program must establish application requirements that it believes are not only in its best interest but also in the best interest of candidates and our specialty. For us, the answer is clear. For us, the right thing to do, for both the candidates and the specialty, is for all programs in the United States to participate in the Match. As a way to encourage non-Match programs to join the Match, at the University of Iowa, we have decided to interview applicants who meet our qualifications and who are applying exclusively to programs participating in the Match.