The NRMP Match is perhaps one of the scariest and most daunting things a medical student faces. After all the tests, difficult patients, lengthy exams, stress and mental breakdowns (we’ve all been there), it comes down to this – The Match. There are some great online resources to learn more about the match, and I’ll include links below. I created this post just to show you a timeline so you can get your bearings and know what to expect from the entire process.
I’ve taken the dates and information from the following sites:
Note: No specific dates as they vary year to year.
- Start researching programs that using websites such as the ACGME and FRIEDA. Most students will rely on FRIEDA and you’ll find information about programs such as the size of the residency, what requirements they have (Step scores, Visa requirements etc.), work hours, flexibility and many other things. Be careful as some of the data is out of date, you can contact the program directly if you have specific questions.
- Figure out how you are getting your token. How else will you rescue Princess Peach? No seriously – you need a token to apply for ERAS. MyERAS is where you will be uploading all of your documents, your personal statement, your letters of recommendation, your personal information etc. This is where programs download your “application”, it is the paper version of you.
- Start contacting your letters of reference authors. Remember when you asked them months ago, you should attempt to follow-up with them periodically throughout the year but now is the time to reach out to them to make sure they are available and willing to write you a strong letter of reference. Attempt to get as many authors relevant to your specialty as possible.
- ERAS will open at the beginning of this month, you can register with your token. Fill in all your information that will not change (address, name etc.).
- Begin sending in documents that are certified by ERAS. You can now print off letter request forms for your referees, and schools can begin sending in Dean’s Letters/MSPEs, and transcripts. Don’t worry if your school won’t send it in until September/October, July is the earliest it can be done. You can track this using ADTS (applicant document tracking center) link which is found within MyERAS.
- July 1st DO applicants apply to DO programs only and July 15th DO programs pull DO applications.
- Begin crafting a personal statement. Create one for each specialty you are planning on applying for, I’d recommend doing one for each geographical area you apply to as well if you are applying broadly. Often a programs biggest concern may be if they believe you have no ties to an area, or no reason to stay in that area – convince them otherwise.
- I may create an article in the future about crafting personal statements, I’ll expand more on that in a future post.
- Continue to work on your application, and ensure by the end of August all your letters of reference have been submitted.
- Get a professional photo. People argue about this all the time, but in the grand scheme of things the cost is minimal and programs often file through applications manually and the photo of you is their the first impression! Don’t argue that it shouldn’t matter, just do it. I believe the photos are uploaded via OASIS for IMG students.
- Edit your personal statement relentlessly. Seriously – be vicious. Don’t make it too long (even though you have a ton of room) remember busy physicians are reading this, so be sure to catch their attention as well.
- Note to IMGs: Have your Step 2 CS and ideally your Step 2 CK scores in before the end of this month. Seriously of the 100s of students that don’t match, most have this issue. I can’t overstate how important this is. You have a disadvantage already by being an IMG, prove to the program directors you can pass their examinations and don’t get cut by a filter before you even end up on their desk. Again, please please plan accordingly for this even if people tell you it isn’t a big deal. If even one program doesn’t interview you because you didn’t do this in time it’s a big loss.
- Keep a list or excel file of all the programs you plan to apply to, as well as relevant information (NRMP numbers, ACGME numbers etc.) You can use this file to track rejections, interviews, and score the program on various categories yourself after the interview. If there is enough demand I’ll give you guys the excel sheet I used with all its conditional formatting (Yes I’m a nerd – but so are you if you’re reading this).
- Download the NRMP Mobile App, seriously it’s fantastic.
- Print your MyERAS application as a pdf and begin editing it. I never understand how so many people forget to edit their file, a spelling mistake may be the difference between an interview request and a rejection.
- The middle of September you will be allowed to apply to programs via MyERAS. Congratulations! Apply within 1-2 days if possible and ensure all your documents are certified and completed. I received interviews personally within 12 hours of submission, so it never hurts to be early.
- There is some debate for IMGs if you should submit without all your documents ready. Some program directors are known to keep two piles; one for a complete application and one for incomplete applications. If you end up in the incomplete pile, even once your application is complete you may have to wait until they finish the other pile to get to your application. My rule of thumb is if you expect your file to be completed within 1 week, wait. After that it becomes more of a gray area.
- ACGME programs begin downloading files.. You may get interviews as early as September, and the season goes from September all the way through February for some programs. The busiest months are without a doubt October and November for interviews.
- Practice your interview skills! Seriously know how to dress professionally for an interview and address any red flags in your file that you may be questioned about during an interview. I may also have a post forthcoming about how to answer interview questions.
- NRMP Match registration opens. NRMP and ERAS communicate, ERAS is where you upload all your documents and files and NRMP organizes the communication for the actual match between programs and applicants. You must register for both to participate in the match. The reason they are separate is it’s possible to get a residency without the match by prematching. Prematch programs are becoming rare, due to all in or all out rule.Remember to tie your ERAS and NRMP accounts together by filling in the corresponding ID number on both websites.
- October 1st MSPEs/Dean’s letters are released to programs. Ensure yours is uploaded by this point, international schools may forget or be slow so stay on top of this!
- End of November NRMP Early registration will end. After this point it will be more expensive to register.
- Didn’t get an interview from your top program? Begin contacting Program Directors in Mid October- Mid November and making your interest known.
- Network wherever possible, it’s great to do so within a hospital where you are rotating, but keep an eye out for opportunities such as conferences. Many such conferences are free for medical students, and have great opportunities to meet people within the field.
- Make the most of traveling! See places you wouldn’t have normally gotten the chance to, remember to bring a book for airports and ear plugs for airplanes. You’ll know be a world renown expert at packing your carry on luggage. Remember to send thank you notes/emails and keep track of each program by writing a few notes and scoring them either via the NRMP app, an excel file or your own system.
- Military match results come out in December.
- Most US Medical students will write Step 2 Exams sometime from September to March.
- Urology match results are released
- I recommend January for contacting programs you were very interested in after your interview to express your interest in them. Begin organizing second looks to programs and start considering your rank list
- Middle of January rank list will open for all applicants on the NRMP website.
- AOA match results are available.
- Interview season wraps up.
- 2nd-3rd week of February you must certify your match rank list.
- Match Week! Normally the third week of March. On the Friday before Match week you will simply find out if you are SOAP eligible or not. This does not mean you matched or did not match, it only shows if you are eligible for SOAP.
- Monday – Find out if you matched or not. If you did great, but you don’t know where yet. Welcome to this relic of a tradition. If you didn’t you will be able to see available SOAP spots and programs.
- Tues-Thursday SOAP runs
- Friday – You find out where you matched! Congratulations!