Final Steps in the Match
If you are applying in the early matches, check the relevant websites or match systems to find out about match systems and time lines. If you secure a spot and no longer need your NRMP registration, notify OSA and withdraw from the NRMP.
The process of entering a match list takes place from late January through mid-February. This will be done on the NRMP Webpage www.nrmp.org. In mid-January, you will receive instructions needed to complete your Rank Order List (ROL). This is a list of all programs you want to go to if you Match. The list is entered in descending order, with your top choice listed first. Programs also submit Rank Order Lists to the NRMP. The NRMP uses a special algorithm to evaluate both lists and determine the Match. The algorithm is "applicant proposing," which means it initially attempts to place each applicant into the position the applicant prefers most, according to the applicant's Rank Order List. The process continues trying to place the applicant into a position in order of the applicant's preference until the applicant is matched or until the applicant's list of preferences is exhausted. The NRMP has an online handbook describing the process in detail.
Matched applicants ranked an average of ten (10) programs. Unmatched applicants ranked an average of five (5) programs. Please keep this in mind when you are filling out your ROL. The more places you rank the better chance you have of matching. However, do not rank a program that you definitely do not want to go to, as you will be obligated to go into that program if you are matched there.
If you really want to go to a specific program, list it first. That program may not get its top ten choices, and you might be number eleven. Don't overestimate yourself. No matter how sure you are that you will Match at your top choice, list additional programs. You cannot be penalized for listing additional programs. Those applicants who list only one or two programs are much more likely not to Match.
Categorical (C) programs
These programs provide full training and lead to eligibility for Board certification when completed. These programs include the first or internship training year.
Advanced Specialty (S) programs
These programs begin in the second or third postgraduate year (i.e., don't include the internship year), and in combination with the appropriate preliminary program, lead to eligibility for Board certification. They require either 1 or 2 years of preliminary (internship) training in general surgery, medicine, pediatrics or a transitional program (see below). Check your specialty for specific requirements.
Preliminary track (P) programs
These programs provide one year (and in some cases, two) of training in a single specialty such as general surgery, medicine or pediatrics.
These programs are a type of one-year preliminary (P) program. They differ from a preliminary year in medicine, surgery or pediatrics because they provide training in multiple specialties over the course of the year.