Fraud and Deception During Residency Application: A Med Student's Worst Nightmare

Ryan Syrek, MA


March 28, 2019

Although all medical students experience anxiety related to the residency match process, that anxiety rarely involves criminal authorities. In March 2016, Dr Bilal Ahmad endured an ordeal ripped from every student's worst nightmares, one that would involve the police and put his future in doubt. It prompted him and his current residency director at Louisiana State University's Our Lady of the Lake Psychiatry program, Dr Kathleen Crapanzano, to publish a piece about the case in Academic Medicine.

Although specific aspects of the incident may be unique, Ahmad and Crapanzano hope that by sharing their story, students and faculty will become more vigilant about new potential fraudulent behaviors and increased pressures surrounding the Match. We spoke with them to hear what happened, in their own words.

Medscape: Let's just start with a brief overview of exactly what happened.

Crapanzano: We had a resident in our program who let me know that her boyfriend, Billy [Ahmad], was going to be coming through the Match. We had him do a rotation with us. He was a fine applicant. Our committee chose to have him match with us.

About 3 days before the Match list was due, I got an email. It said, "Dr Crapanzano, I want to thank you for everything you've done for me, but I've decided to sign outside of the Match and go to a program in New York." I get one of those emails every year or two, so I didn't think too much of it.

I didn't say anything to his girlfriend, because I figured that was none of my business and that must have been the decision that they had made between the two of them. Perhaps they'd broken up and didn't want to tell me. Whatever their personal circumstances, I didn't think it was any of my business. So, I didn't talk to her. I wrote him back and said, "I wish you well. Glad you found a place you're happy with!" And I took him off the list.

Medscape: But you soon realized that things weren't that simple, right?

Crapanzano: The week before Match week, no changes can be made. I ran into Billy's girlfriend and asked what happened with Billy in the Match. She said, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Him signing in New York." The color left her face. She said, "He didn't even interview in New York." I thought, "Oh dear, they're breaking up, and she doesn't know it." I left the room to let them sort it out. She comes in about 15 minutes later and hands me the phone. Billy gets on and says, "I don't know what this is about."

Medscape: Dr Ahmad, what was going through your mind?

Ahmad: It was shock at first. Dr Crapanzano asked me if had ever sent an email to the program stating that I wanted to withdraw from the Match and pursue another residency program. She read the email address to me, and I said, "I've never had an account with this name before."

Crapanzano: So I said, "Billy, I don't know how to tell you this, but I took your name off the list." I immediately called the person in the medical school that serves over graduate medical education, and he thought I should reach out to the Match, which I did.

Medscape: Just to be clear, you reached out to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)?

Crapanzano: Yes, and I got someone on the phone and told them the story. This is the Wednesday before Match week. The woman said, "It's too late. It's all done." When the Match came out, he had matched somewhere else. He had a legally binding contract that he had to go somewhere else. It was a family medicine program, but he wanted to be a psychiatrist. So not only was he not coming here with his girlfriend, he wasn't even going to be in his specialty of choice.


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