Before 1952 getting into medical postgraduate training was not as streamlined as it is today. The admission and graduation dates where different for every institution creating a problem in filing physician positions. The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) was established to make the process uniform so that in coming residents got into residency at the same time and graduated at the same time. Basically the NRMP provides a uniform system by which residency candidates can simultaneously “Match” into a first year or second year accredited postgraduate training position.
What is the MATCH?
The match is the backbone of the National residency matching program. It is a computerized system where a connection is made between applicants for residency positions and available residency openings in institutions, that is, they are “matched.”
However, before this process the candidates and the residency programs will have to rank all the institutions or candidate they would like to come to their program, or vice versa, in order of preference. The candidates can only rank programs they had interviewed at, and residency programs can only rank candidates they interviewed. This process culminates in The “Rank order list.” This list is then literally let lose on NRMP computers to find suitable relationships based on an algorithm.
In a nutshell, the NRMP computers will match each individual applicant’s preferences to that of a residency programs and come up with another list, “The match list.” This list will show where every physician that matched will spend the next 3 to ten years in post graduate training.
Who can participate in the Match?
The match is a period of great excitement and anxiety for everybody involved. The list of people that can apply for the match has continued to grow every year with far more applicants than there are residency positions. Those who can participate include:-
– Fourth year US medical students
– First year residents
– International Medical Graduates (aka IMG’s)
Generally, most of the US medical students will get one of their first three choices for residency, and international medical graduates will mostly take up what is left. But there are no guarantees that candidates will match to their program of choice or match at all.
Students who do not match at all into any spot, and programs that did not fill all their openings, will have a second chance through a process known as the “scramble.” It is a frenzied few days in which about 4,000 residency openings are aggressively sort after by 15,000 candidates.
Based on the uncertain nature of the Match, it is advisable that every residency candidate have a strategy for the scramble. Usually, after the match list is released, candidates that did not match are still shell shocked when the scramble starts and before they get their thoughts together and participate in the scramble, it is all over. The scramble is a classic example of,” May the best prepared man or woman win.”