Back Ready for Match Day 2019?

Are You Ready for Match Day 2019? What Med School Graduates Can Expect

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

The month of March is quickly approaching, which means it’s almost time for Match Day and Match Week, which represent the culmination of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Main Residency Match®.

Match Week is a critical time when medical school students and graduates from the United States and around the world learn which U.S. residency programs they will train with during the next three to seven years.

NRMP created the objective program back in 1952 in order to provide a uniform time for both applicants and residency programs to make their training selections without pressure. Since then, the Main Residency Match program has encompassed more than 40,000 applicants and 30,000 programs. In addition to the primary program, the NRMP also conducts fellowship matches for over 60 subspecialties through its Specialties Matching Service® (SMS®).

The computerized mathematical algorithm behind the Main Residency Match program ensures that the process remains unbiased and objective for both the applying residents and the programs. In fact, research on the NRMP algorithm was a basis for awarding the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Applicants are encouraged to provide a full list of their ranked preferences in order to make best use of the matching algorithm.

Deadlines for the Main Residency Match for 2019 are strict and are important to adhere to:

2019 Main Residency Match® Calendar Overview*

JAN 31
- Program quota change, program withdrawal, and program SOAP participation deadlines at 11:59 p.m. ET
FEB 20
- Rank Order List Certification Deadline at 9:00 p.m. ET
• Applicant late registration and Match withdrawal deadline
• Medical school student/graduate graduation credentials verification deadline
• Institution change approvals deadline
• Program reversion deadline
MAR 11
- Match Week begins
• Applicant “Did I Match?” and “Did My Program Fill?” information available at 11:00 a.m. ET
• Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) begins at 11:00 a.m. ET
MAR 14
- SOAP concludes at 11:00 a.m. ET
MAR 15
- Match Day!
• Medical school Match Day ceremonies at 12:00 p.m. ET
• Match results posted in the R3 system at 1:00 p.m. ET

*Information courtesy of the NRMP’s website, The Match.

For applicants who do not match to a program, there are still options available, including the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®) that begins on March 11. SOAP includes the positions that are left unfilled after the matching algorithm has been processed. These are then offered to eligible applicants through SOAP.

In addition to SOAP, applicants also have other avenues to consider for contingency planning, and NRMP is not the only way to apply for residency.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) also offers the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®)that streamlines the application process with a centralized, flexible solution. In addition, AAMC provides a list of ways that residency candidates can optimize their chances to be chosen as a candidate during the application process.

The following are AAMC’s six steps for developing a smart application strategy:

  1. Understand the wide range of specialty and practice options available to physicians.
  2. Gauge your competitiveness and candidacy.
  3. Determine which specialty or specialties are right for you.
  4. Research residency programs in your preferred specialty or specialties.
  5. Determine how many and which residency programs to apply to.
  6. Create an effective residency application and prepare for interviews.  

The  Student Doctor Network (SDN), a non-profit organization, advises unmatched medical school graduates to first go through the SOAP process. If that is not an option, they recommend deploying a plan that includes strong networking and a cold calling strategy.

Unmatched applicants should begin reaching out to those in the medical community who may know of last-minute residency vacancies and openings. This can be done by cold calling, networking on professional social media sites like LinkedIn and reaching out to medical school contacts and faculty.

The American Medical Association’s Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA) website features a comprehensive Residency and Fellowship Database that you can use to build a list of programs to contact. This resource lists all graduate medical education programs in the United States that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and it is provided at no charge by the AMA.

Creating a simple script can be helpful when calling residency programs. You can start with something as simple as: “Hello, my name is _____ and I graduated from ______ (medical school); do you have any post-graduate year 1 positions available?”

Whether you are matched with a program through the official Match Day program or you find a residency program via a different avenue, the staff at Locum Leaders wishes you the best of luck in your post-medical school education and adventures!

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