How Med Students Get Matched for Residency

I feel like the belle of the ball!

I feel like the belle of the ball!

Hello my future med student readers! This is an exciting week in the medical school world because the fourth year medical students are learning where they have matched for residency! If you’re embroiled in the medical school application and admissions process, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you’re going to do a similar process again in a few years when you apply for residency positions. If you know nothing about the matching process, hopefully I can demystify it a little for you today.

As a fourth year medical student, in addition to rotating through various interesting specialties, doing research, and finishing up your required clinical rotations, you spend time flying around the country and interviewing for residency spots. The idea is that you’re trying to gather information about the residency programs and the program is trying to find out more about you. I know some students who flew to 30+ different places to interview!

After the interviews are done, both the programs and the students create a rank list. It must then be finalized and locked-in. Students are not allowed to change their minds after verifying and submitting their rank lists. Obviously this is a fairly stressful endeavor as you’re committing to a program that may or may not want you.

The schools’ lists and the students’ lists are then combined by the National Resident Matching Program. As far as I can tell, this is essentially like pledging a sorority. They have a secret list of ideal candidates and you have your ranked lists of ideal places to end up. However, unlike some sororities, the NRMP is very official and explicit in their selection process. As per their website, here’s how they make matches: “The process begins with an attempt to match an applicant to the program most preferred on that applicant’s rank order list (ROL).  If the applicant cannot be matched to that first choice program, an attempt is made to place the applicant into the second choice program, and so on, until the applicant obtains a tentative match or all the applicant’s choices on the ROL have been exhausted.”

So, on the third Monday in March, students are alerted to whether or not they’ve matched. If they haven’t matched, they then have the opportunity to scramble and fill any open residency spots. Then, four days later, the students each receive an envelope with their residency location in it. Most schools have a large ceremony where all of the fourth-year students receive their match assignments, since it’s an  important and often very joyous event. On Friday this week, quite a few lives will be changed forever by their residency matching system.

What are your thoughts on the matching system? What would you do differently if you were in charge?
Happy studying,
Emily
  • lars

    I think the students with the highest GPA should be considered for their residency first. They should be placed in their first, second, third, ect. they have applied for. Their should not me any discrimination and each student should be placed. The ones with the highest GPA in their area should be considered first since they are the cream of the crop and have put forth an effort in medical school.

  • kittymom

    There is so much more to consider than GPA. Once you’ve been a resident for awhile, you’ll understand. In all honesty, this is a rather superficial piece of writing. Best of luck to all applicants, but this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what a good resident is, and what traits they embody.

  • PatricParamedic

    Lars -
    You really need to get a better perspective on what a “good” doctor really is. And here’s a hint: A high grade point average is the LAST thing that should be considered by the school in choosing candidates.

    2,500 doctors are convicted of felony-level crimes each year. Another 5,200+ are found responsible for crappy behavior behind closed doors in civil proceedings.

    You’d be stunned how many of them were high achievers at places like Harvard and Stanford.

    There’s a ton more involved than high IQs.

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