'UroLeak 2020' Gave Early Look at Urology Match Results

Nick Mulcahy

January 17, 2020

"Some" medical students and applicants got an early look at the 2020 Urology Match Results, acknowledged the American Urological Association (AUA) in a statement.

The early viewing happened on January 16, one day before the release of the official results, when a vulnerability in the match website's portal allowed results to be seen online ahead of schedule.

The AUA, which administers the Urology Match Day, said it "immediately" took the results portal offline — to prevent further early access.

The results were then online again on January 17, as planned. The premature access was dubbed UroLeak 2020 in one social media forum.

Even without glitches, a Match Day is characterized by tension and strong feelings. Acknowledging the emotional nature of the event, the AUA was apologetic: "We apologize for this occurrence and hope it has not overshadowed the anticipation and excitement of tomorrow's official release."

Bill Glover, the AUA's executive vice president for information and operational services, emphasized that "none of the results were modified or jeopardized in any way," in an interview with Medscape Medical News.

He also said that the number of early views was "likely limited," as the universe of students and applicants who accessed their online match accounts on January 16 was only "about 100."

The AUA cannot determine who among that group accessed the results, which was achieved by manipulating the URL of the match site. Notably, individuals could only access their own accounts and match results.

Not the First Match Day Mishap

Word of the early access spread online, including on Reddit, where posts provide unofficial information-gathering places for various Match Days, including urology.

On Twitter, observers and urologists also weighed in.

One Twitter user said that her "heart hurt for those who said their results said 'unmatched.' Now they have to wait until tomorrow for confirmation and possibly experience that disappointment all over again."

"Well said," subtweeted David Penson, MD, (@urogeek), urologic oncologist, Vanderbilt University, Nashville.

This is not the first Match Day mishap for the AUA.

In 2005, the day occurred as scheduled in January but was then retracted 4 days later, resulting in a second match, a taxing process that was described online by some participants.

The 2005 debacle has not been forgotten and was referenced this week.  

Keith Kowalczyk MD, urologic oncologist, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, tweeted that, unlike 2005, at least this year the AUA did not have to do the whole thing "all over again."

Candace Granberg, MD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester Minnesota, tweeted (@candacegranberg): "Yeah, that was a fun time. #AUAMatch2005 #survivor"

https://twitter.com/candacegranberg/status/1218039884121870343

This year, Kowalczyk congratulated the AUA for "being completely proactive" and taking swift action to shut down the match portal, in emailed comments to Medscape Medical News. He also observed that, in this year's snafu, there is no rematch, a process that "can really take a toll."

Describing the 2005 incident, Kowalczyk revealed the nature of the emotional stakes of a Match Day.

That year, Kowalczyk matched at the University of Southern California, a top 3 choice of his. "I was thrilled," he said. But his parents and girlfriend, who both lived on the East Coast, were "devastated."

Then, 4 days later, all emotions were put in check, with the announcement of the entire match being redone. Next, Kowalczyk was informed that he matched at Georgetown, his first choice. "I had relief that this whole thing was over," he said.

But Kowalczyk also said that "about 10 applicants" who matched the first time in 2005, "did NOT match the second, and the anxieties went on for them." In the end, he believes that all entered programs the following year.

The AUA calls Match Day an annual "rite of passage" for US medical students and other applicants from around the world that is the culmination of a lengthy process. Applicants apply to programs, undergo invited interviews, submit their preferred institutions to the AUA, which in turn works with those institutions and their preferences to produce a "match."

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