There are three (3) types of residency matching services in the U.S. to secure a residency position. You will determine which match program to register for depending on your medical specialty choice.
The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is the primary matching program in which almost all specialties participate. However, four (4) medical specialties that participate in another type of residency match program, referred to as Early Match Programs for urology, ophthalmology, some positions in plastic surgery and various fellowships. The military also has its own match program, Army and Navy Military Match.
Each program has its own requirements, task list and timetable.
The way the matching programs work is with a computer algorithm that matches the applicants’ preferences for residency positions with programs’ preferences for applicants. For more information, see section, Rank Order Lists for Match.
NRMP - Main Match Program
The NRMP is the single largest matching program. It offers PGY-1 and PGY-2 level residency training positions in most specialties. The results of the match program are made public in March.
In addition to registering for MyERAS, residency applicants must register for the NRMP. Step-by-step instructions and a video tutorial is available on the website to guide you through the registration process. NRMP registration typically opens mid-September. Late registration begins December when a late fee is added to the standard registration fee. To view additional dates, deadlines and additional details, see the NRMP Main Residency Match Calendar.
NRMP Match Calendar
See the NRMP Main Residency Match Calendar to view important dates and task to help you stay on track.
NRMP Couples Match
NRMP Couples Match is a program in which couples can link their program choices together so that they can be matched into a combination of programs suited to their needs. Partners register individually for a Match Program and then specify the Registration, Ranking, and Results® (R3®) system, i.e. Main Residency Match or Fellowship Match in which they want to participate. There are step-by-step instructions and a video tutorial to guide you through the registration process successfully. The page also has information about match fees and helpful tools such as the couples rank order list worksheet, faq’s, and tips for registering.
Early Match Programs
Early Match Programs are a collection of specialties that operate outside the main match. There are two (2) specialties, in particular, that participate in an early match: ophthalmology and urology. The match results are made public earlier than the NRMP match results typically mid- to late-January.
Early Match Programs include the San Francisco Match, American Urological Association Match, the Military Match and the Canadian Residency matching Service. Each specialty handles the process differently. Some are affiliated with the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) and some are not.
Below is a brief description of each program. For comprehensive details, visit Learning About Early Match Programs on the AMA website.
San Francisco Match - Ophthalmology
Students interested in ophthalmology both apply and match through the same service, San Francisco Match (SF Match). The application is electronic, but submitting supplemental documents is entirely a manual process. Students are solely responsible for assembling the application packet and submitting the documents.
American Urological Association Match - Urology
Students interested in matching to a urology residency program apply through ERAS & match through the American Urological Association Match organized by the American Urological Association (AUA). Each individual program has their own requirements, application deadlines and policies regarding pre-urology training, and application submission guidelines. Some use ERAS and others do not. Check ERAS for a list of participating urology programs.
Army and Navy Military Match
Students who apply for military residency positions work through the military system. This match program sponsored by the US Armed Services. Students apply through ERAS & match through the Military Match.
Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS)
Applicants interested in residency programs in Canada must apply through the Canadian Residency Matching Service. The website gives an overview of the Match Process as well as timelines, FAQs, match tips and resources. The timeline is different from the U.S., so it is important to understand the process and deadlines in advance. Students are responsible for their application.
Rank Order Lists for Match
As you’ve already learned, by participating in a match program, the preferences of residency applicants for residency positions are matched with programs’ preferences for applicants. This is done through rank order lists (ROL) that are submitted by each party. Again, the timeframe is dependent on the match program you participate.
The Residency Preference Exercise on the AAMC website can help you compare programs based on the things that matter to you.
The NRMP provides a succinct match process overview (click on “Residency Overview”). In addition, you will find a robust Residency Applicant Toolkit. In it, you will find newsletters, calendars, checklists, FAQs, video tutorials, and more.
This section of the AAMC Careers in Medicine site hosts many articles and resources that can help make your Match experience successful.