It can be a nerve-wracking experience for any medical graduate to apply to be matched with a Health Service – and this is made even more confusing by several myths floating around about how to “game the system” for a better match.

None of these myths are true – but they can often lead to detrimental results for applicants that try to follow unproven methods to gain their preferred position.

Below, we’re going to help you better understand the Allocation & Placement Service (APS) and bust three of the most common myths we see so that you can start the process without any mistakes.

How does Allocation & Placement Service work?

The APS matches candidates to Health Services. This is an exciting time for both parties as it signals the start of new careers and opportunities for medical graduates.

The process is done in 3 steps:

1. Candidates register

Candidates will first register an account with the PMCV to begin the placement process. Our new registration system makes it easy for candidates to register, and it has mobile-friendly pages, easy-to-understand forms, and a visual checklist of the steps you need to take.

The registration process will be a little different for each role type and may include extra steps or screening questions.

2. Candidates preference Health Services

Once they’ve registered and begun the Match application process, candidates will need to nominate the Health Service positions they wish to be considered for, in order of their preference.

The number of Health Service positions that you can preference depends on the match rules.

3. Candidates get matched

Once the time to preference has closed, health services can view, assess, and rank applicants for employment. When health service rankings have been submitted, the matching process begins.

The matching algorithm is a mathematical process that allocates candidates to the best available health service positions based on the preferences expressed by both parties.

“The actual selection and ranking of candidates is the sole responsibility of the employing Health Service. The PMCV cannot assist candidates in selecting streams or specialties.”

Debunking 3 myths about the APS

Myth #1: Applicants can preference strategically to “game the algorithm”

We understand that participating in a Match can be daunting, and candidates want to feel a sense of control over the process. However, the best way to ensure your best possible outcome is achieved is to list your preferences in the actual order you prefer.

What you should do:

  • Always list your preferences in the actual order of your preference
  • Nominate preferences across a range of different Health Services and/or specialties
  • Only preference positions you are willing to take if you are allocated

What you should not do:

  • List your preferences in the same order as a colleague or friend because they told you to
  • List your second preference higher than your first because you’re uncertain about your chances of getting selected for your first choice

Health Services have a lot of different elements they consider as part of their individual selection process, and it’s difficult for an applicant to predict Health Services’ assessment decisions. We’ll explain this further as we investigate Myth #2 below.

Myth #2: Your chances of being matched decrease if you don’t get your first preference

With the pressure to get your first preference, you might hear worrying rumours that if you miss out on your first Match then you have fewer chances of being matched at all.

This might make you list your second preference above your first if you think you have a lower chance of being selected for your first choice.

The truth: Not matching with your first choice won’t affect your subsequent matches.

If a Match isn’t possible, the algorithm moves to your next highest preference and repeats the process. The matching algorithm is not influenced by your previous Match in any way.

By nominating your “safe” or “back up” options higher than your most preferred position, the algorithm will be more likely to place you at your “safe” choice, rather than the one you wanted the most.

Your preferences should always reflect the actual order of Health Service positions for which you wish to be considered – there is no harm in putting your true highest preference first.

Myth #3: The PMCV is involved in the assessment and selection of candidates

This myth is about who is “really” in charge of the Matches. It’s easy to be confused as to who runs (or even “influences”) the APS, as there are a few different parties involved.

The truth is that the PMCV does not assess or select candidates. We coordinate the centralised recruitment process and administer the matching algorithm.

What the PMCV does:

  • We approve eligible candidates to enter the Match by conducting initial checks to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the Match, and in some Matches, we check that candidates have selected the correct Eligibility Criterion
  • We coordinate the centralised recruitment process and collect applications, as well as running the algorithm to match candidates to positions based on the preferences and rankings of the two parties
  • We support Health Services and candidates participating in the processes

What the Health Services do:

  • Health Services review approved candidates’ applications to determine whether they are prepared to employ them and, if so, how highly they would rank applicants for employment compared to other applicants
  • In some specialty training Matches, a Committee or Panel may assess a candidate’s suitability to enter the training program, prior to health services determining their final rankings

It is up to each individual Health Service to determine who they are prepared to employ.

How can you increase your chances of getting matched?

The only way that you can give yourself the best chance of getting matched with your first preference is by listing it first.

Following the myths we’ve debunked above leads to heartbreak as they decrease your chances of getting selected by your first preference, and they also harm other candidates’ chances if they keep circulating.

If you hear of any other rumours, please contact us to confirm whether this is true or not. In most cases, it will not be true. We encourage you to share this article to help your fellow candidates in their Matching process.

You can learn more about the Matching process here, and you can also engage with a community of fellow medical graduates by following us on Facebook.

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