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Medical School Residency: What is the Match?

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Question: Medical School Residency: What is the Match?
Answer: During the fourth year of medical school, students must decide which field of medicine or specialty they wish to practice in order to apply to a residency program. Residency usually is for at least three years. Thus, the Match offers students the opportunity to find the residency program that is best suited for them.

The NRMP or National Resident Matching Program (non-profit organization) runs the Match in the following manner:

  • Medical students complete their interviews.
  • Medical students submit their preferred list of residency programs (with the most preferred as the first choice) while residency programs rank their preferred list of students.
  • The data from both the students and residency programs get entered into a computer database.
  • The computer matches the residency program to a student.
  • Graduating students receive their results in mid-march, which is also known as “Match Day”.

All students must accept their matched position. Any students not matched into residency are given a list of unfilled positions during the week prior to Match Day. This allows them to join the “Scramble” which is aimed at matching unmatched medical students with unfilled positions.

701 US teaching hospitals offer residency or fellowship programs that train approximately 80,000 physicians on a regular basis. US physicians complete their three year residencies in one or more specialties. Sub-specialty (or fellowship) training requires several more years of training.

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