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Application Process

Register for the Match

The "Regular" Match is run by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) in Washington, D.C. All students seeking an internship and/or residency through this program must register. To register for the Match, students should go to www.nrmp.org. You may withdraw from the Match until the certification deadline in February. Completing the match process creates a contract binding you to service in the program(s) to which you are matched.
 
  • "San Francisco" (Early) Match registration information is at www.sfmatch.org. All students registering for the San Francisco Match should also register for the NRMP Match for their preliminary position.
  • AUA (Urology) Match registration information is at www.auanet.org. Many students registering for the AUA Match should also register for the NRMP Match since their program may require a preliminary surgery position. Also, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program which is used to find unfilled positions, is available only to those registered with the NRMP.
  • Military Match information is available at the websites of the branch in which you would like to serve: Army, Navy or Air ForceStudents registering for the Military Match should also register for the NRMP Match if they plan on applying for a civilian position if they do not Match in the military. 
  • Canadian Early Application and Match System (CaRMS) information is available at www.carms.caAll students registering for the Canadian Match should also register for the NRMP Match in case they are not successful with the CaRMS. 

Identify Programs

To find out where you want to apply, search the web or directly contact hospital programs for information. Names and addresses of program directors are found on the web at www.ama-assn.org/go/freida. FREIDA (Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access) is an online database with information about salaries, benefits, call schedules and the like. Some hospitals have provided more information than others, but we encourage everyone to review the program. FREIDA is sometimes out of date, so it's a good idea to double check information you get. At Careers in Medicine, you will also find relevant information. Assistant Dean Joe Martinez can give you information. When selecting programs, take into consideration the strength of the program and your comparative strength as an applicant.

Apply to Programs

Discuss your choices with the program director in that specialty, OSA Deans and other appropriate faculty, to develop the best list of programs possible considering your academic record. For most residencies, it is reasonable to examine perhaps 20-30 programs at first. You should apply to as many programs as needed to insure that you interview at 12 – 14 programs and end up with at least 10 programs on your rank order list. Be sure to check with each program about their required documents. Not all programs will invite you for an interview, so monitor your applications and apply to more programs if you aren't receiving invitations to interview. More competitive residencies may require applications to more programs and ranking of more programs. Make sure that when you apply to programs, you assign the required supporting documents to programs. If you do not assign the supporting documents to programs, the programs will be unable to see your documents.  

Go on Interviews

After reviewing your applications, interested programs will invite you to interview. There is no better way to evaluate a program than by visiting and talking with residents and faculty. Interview schedules vary greatly between hospitals and specialties. Generally, the "early matches" interview in October and November, and all other NRMP specialties interview November through January. Speak with students in the class ahead of you to find out what month was the most popular for interviewing so that you can try to leave it unscheduled.

Confirm your interview two weeks in advance. If you decide not to interview at a program you have already accepted, please contact the program director and cancel as soon as possible. If you find it necessary to interview during an elective or other rotation, you must have permission from your attending before leaving and preferably before the start of the rotation if you know about the interview that far in advance. Not every program is able to interview every student. If you are especially interested in a program that has not offered you an interview, it is a good idea to contact them to confirm your interest and find out if they need additional information from you. Some program directors and chairs are willing to call programs for you to assist with securing an interview if you have not been offered one by a program in which you are particularly interested.

Appropriate dress is an essential part of any interview. We suggest dressing in a professional and neat manner. Hair should be well groomed, and body jewelry of any kind should be kept to a minimum. Clothing should be clean, pressed and in good repair. Gentlemen should consider a two-piece suit. The suit need not be expensive, but should be well cut and tailored. If you do not have a suit, wear a sport coat and coordinating slacks. Be sure shoes are polished, and wear dark dress socks. Wear a conservative tie. Ladies should consider a two-piece suit with a simple blouse that is not too revealing, or a well-tailored dress. Choose low-heeled pumps, as you may be doing a bit of walking.

Review material obtained about the program the night before interviewing. On interview day, have with you copies of your CV, personal statement, application, board scores, transcript and an extra picture. Most programs will not ask for an additional copy of your documents; however it does not hurt to have them with you just in case. You may also bring transcripts with updated grades and evaluations from key rotations that came in after your MSPE was prepared. Bring a note pad or portfolio and a good pen. This will be helpful to write impressions immediately after the interview, because much of what you hear will quickly be forgotten. Don't forget a little money (parking, food, etc.).

Evaluate Programs

While you are at each program, consider:  

  • What is the quality of the residents and the variety of their backgrounds? The commitment, esprit and competence of the residents reflect the quality of the training program.
  • What is the Board pass rate for the residents?
  • What do the residents do at the completion of their training? Fellowship and/or job placement?
  • How committed are the program director and the department chair to the residency program?
  • Are there sufficient mentors and advisors for the residents?
  • Most good training programs have students as part of the ward team. How committed are the residents to teaching students? What is the quality of the student group? How much of your time would you actually have for teaching?
  • What is the quantity and quality of research? How much teaching do investigators do? Are research opportunities available to clinical house staff?
  • Try to look at a weekly schedule of rounds, conferences and teaching sessions. Determine their quality and variety. Do the residents tell you that they are able to attend the conferences?
  • What is the rotation schedule and call schedule like?
  • What is the quality of the radiology and pathology departments and the clinical labs?
  • What are the breadth and depth of specialty consultative services?
  • What is the direct patient responsibility of the residents? What are the volume of patients seen and the mix of patients?

You may consider second visits to programs of particular interest to further clarify important aspects for you. These visits will usually occur in late January. Remember that the most important determinant of the type of program you seek is your own interest. The search for an internship reflects your individual needs. Consider networking with our graduates about their experiences with interviewing at different programs and during residency.

Many students send thank you notes to program directors after their visit. You may also consider sending these to interviewers/residents who took you to lunch/dinner, etc. and the program coordinator/administrator, although these are certainly not required. Whether to write and what to write is up to you, but we suggest that you do write the program director, as it has become fairly routine. You may also receive letters from programs after your interviews expressing their strong interest in you. You may even receive verbal assurances from the program director that he or she is going to rank you highly. This is a recruiting method. It leads to great harm if it gives you unrealistic expectations or encourages you to limit the list of places that you either rank or interview. Do not let such promises encourage you to limit the programs you rank or rearrange your rank list. Rank programs in the order that you truly want them. Finally, most students send a note to their top few programs after they complete their rank list to let the program know that they have ranked them “at the top of their list” or “very highly on their list.” It should go without saying that you must be fully honest with your content if you choose to send such a note.

If there is some place you have interviewed and subsequently have decided that you definitely do not want to go, do not enter that program on your rank order list. If you would happen to Match there, you would be obligated by contract with the National Residency Matching Program.