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The Match Process

The "Match" is a process that predominately matches fourth-year medical students with medical residency programs. (Other groups of applicants are also eligible to compete for any vacant medical residency positions.) All graduated medical students must complete additional training beyond medical school to receive their medical license. Since residency training spots are limited due to government funding, an impartial process was developed to pair student residency choices with residency-training program preferences.

Match programs include:

  1. Military
  2. San Francisco or “Early” (Ophthalmology only beginning in 2012.)
  3. Urology
  4. National Residency Matching Program (NRMP)
  5. American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  6. Canadian Residency Matching Service ( CaRMS)

Here are some ground rules for the “Match” that you will want to know early on:

  • A student chooses one of the above match programs when applying for a residency training position.
  • Unless a student is in the military medicine career path, wants to practice in Canada, or wants to apply for an Osteopathic residency program, the match program the student selects will depend on the specialty of choice.
  • Early match and Urology match applicants usually are required to register with the NRMP for the first year of general training in addition to their primary match registration.
  • Only the NRMP has a provision for a couples match.
  • There is one fee for match registration and a separate fee for application processing.
  • Each match has its own timeline, application service, regulations, and method of operation.
  • Rules that apply to one match do not necessarily apply to another.
  • Penalties are enforced if rules are broken.
  • Match results are as binding as a contract.

Graduates of allopathic medical schools are expected to participate in the match process unless they find one of the rare training positions that does not participate in any match, or they enter the program at an off time (other than July 1 of the match year).

For statistical data on the National Residency Match Program go to Advanced Data Tables 2017​.​