The Top 10 of 2021

For me, a recent December tradition has been renewing the license on the coveted and highly sought-after domain name When I do, I take a moment to review the posts that generated the most traffic over the past year. And just like last year, there were a few surprises.

So here they are – the top posts from 2021. Let’s count them down…


The Case for Residency Application Caps

The typical post on The Sheriff of Sodium generates a spike of interest after it appears, with declining interest over time. But this one doesn’t fit that mold.

It was published on January 1, 2021 and honestly didn’t attract many visitors for a while. Instead, it landed in the Top 10 as waves of secondary interest from social media and search engine referrals progressively increased the page views over the year. Notably, some of these spikes occurred after Match Day and ERAS Opening Day… which tells me that more of you are coming to your senses and realizing that application caps will be necessary to bring Application Fever under control.



Since this was posted in October, I’ve continued to hear from applicants who believe that certain applicaiton materials were not sent to programs as they should have been. I still find those reports both credible and troubling.

However, at this point, it is clear that there is not a widespread ERAS issue. I worked with several programs to evaluate whether a greater proportion their applications this year arrived without letters of recommendation assigned – but the overall fraction was low and statistically similar to previous years.


The Coalition for Physician Accountability’s UME-GME Transition Recommendations: Winners & Losers Edition

This review of the Coalition’s preliminary recommendations on the UME-GME transition came out on April 27, 2021. When the final recommendations were released in late August, I posted again – though interestingly, that post never received quite as much traffic as this one.


The 2021 Match: By the Numbers

This was the second of two posts that summed up the 2021 Match, and covered the full data report. But similar to the experience with the Coalition for Physician Accountability’s reports described above, the post on the preliminary data garnered more views, coming in at #3 on the list.


The End of USMLE Step 2 CS: Winners & Losers Edition

For me, the single most surprising medical education story in all of 2021 was the announcement that the USMLE Step 2 CS exam would be permanently suspended. These were my thoughts from January 26, 2021 – the day that announcement was made.


The Match, Part 5: The Lawsuit

The most recent piece in my series on the Match was published in March 2021.

(For the many who have asked when the next part will be released: look for the long-awaited Part 6 this spring.)


Mailbag: ERAS Secondary Applications and Preference Signaling

The most popular Mailbag of the year covered questions related to the introduction of preference signaling and new ‘secondary’ applications for certain specialties this year.


Match Day 2021: Winners & Losers Edition

The 2020-2021 residency application cycle was unlike any previous season – which is probably why this wrapup attracted so much attention.


Rank Order List Buyers and Sellers Edition

This is one of my favorite posts from the past year – I liked it so much that I also turned it into a video.


How is the three digit USMLE score calculated?

Curiously, the only post to crack the Top 10 that wasn’t published in 2021 was actually The Sheriff of Sodium’s most trafficked webpage.

This post was actually published on January 13, 2020 – one month before the USMLE announced plans for a pass/fail Step 1 – and isn’t a post that I’ve promoted for a long time. It hit the top of the list because – just like another I wrote about USMLE scoring – it receives a steady stream of referrals from search engines. But hey, however you came in, I’m glad you made it.

So to all of my readers: thank you for spending some of your time in 2021 with me. Wishing you my very best for a happy and healthy 2022…


The Top 10 of 2020

The Vulnerabilities of Osteopathic Medicine

Preference Signaling Winners & Losers Edition

On Toilet Paper and Application Caps