In order to practice medicine in the US, all graduates must go through an ACGME-accredited residency program at a US teaching hospital after graduating from medical school. There are two main ways to get a residency:
Most US hospitals and students participate in the Main Match. To participate in the match, during our 4th year of med school, we apply to residency programs via the ERAS website. For all the hospitals we interview at, we rank the hospitals to our preference on the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) website. The hospital does the same and ranks the students that they interviewed to their preference. The Rank Order List (ROL) of the hospitals and the candidates are then put into a computer algorithm. Then on Match Day in March, the “match” happens, and you are matched into a residency program at a hospital. The match ensures that the programs get the candidates they want the most and that the candidates get the programs they want the most. However, the match does not guarantee a spot for every student, since there are more applicants than residency spots. While most graduates do match somewhere, there are also those who do not, and reapply the following year.
Some residency programs may decide to not participate in the match, and instead offer their positions to candidates on their own without going through the match.The pre-match is only open to foreign medical graduates and other independent applicants.
To participate in the match, there are three different organizations with three different websites that you need to know about:
1. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
As a foreign medical graduate, ECFMG acts as your “Dean’s office.” Because you are a foreign medical student, you must go through the ECFMG website to register for ERAS. Foreign medical schools also go through ECFMG in order to upload your application documents onto the ERAS website.
2. Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)
Technically not an organization of its own, but part of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). You use ERAS to submit your applications to the residency programs.
3. National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)
The NRMP matches you into a program, and vice versa.
Disclaimer: This schedule only applies to the 2014 match and is specific for AUC students. Every year, the deadlines may change. This post mainly just gives you an idea of what the process is like. For updated information on the deadlines, please look this up on the AUC, ECFMG, ERAS, and NRMP websites.
Timeline for the Match:
AUC begins accepting MSPE and transcript requests. Go the AUC website and fill out the MSPE request form, and the transcript request form. On the MSPE questionnaire, be as detailed as possible, so that AUC can write you a good MSPE. Fill in all requests by August 31.
As a foreign medical graduate, you must buy an ERAS token via the ECFMG website for $100. Go to “Oasis” on the ECFMG website, then “ERAS Support Services”, then “ERAS Token Request Screen.” You need to buy a token in order to register with ERAS and start your ERAS application.
You can now start your ERAS application. Fill out your application, upload your personal statement, select which programs you want to apply to. If AUC is holding onto your LoRs for you, you can now tell AUC to upload them onto the ECFMG website (which should automatically upload onto the ERAS website). If you request LoRs from attendings after July 1, you should tell your letter writers to upload the LoRs directly onto the ERAS website. On MyERAS, you can check the ADTS (Applicant Document Tracking System) to see the status of these uploads.
You must send in all MSPE letter and transcript requests to AUC by this date. AUC will then write you an MSPE letter and prepare your transcript. After a few weeks, AUC will send you your MSPE letter to look over and make any factual changes if necessary. If all is good, AUC will release the MSPE letter to all your selected residency programs on October 1.
BIG DAY! You can now send out your ERAS application to all your selected programs, as well as register for the Match with NRMP (you get an NRMP ID). I would suggest sending out your ERAS application first thing in the morning, and do the NRMP later when it opens up at 12 noon. Registering for the NRMP now isn’t as urgent as submitting your ERAS applications. After September 15, residency programs will start sending out interview invitations.
AUC (and all medical schools) releases your MSPE Letter to all the residency programs you applied to. Many programs may not look at your application until the MSPE is released, and so you may get some more interview invitations after the MSPE is released.
October – January
The bulk of your interviews will happen between October and January. Some residency programs even interview into the first few days of February.
February 26, 9pm ET
Deadline to finalize your Rank Order List (ROL) on the NRMP website! You must certify your ROL on the NRMP website in order to participate in the match. This is also the deadline to withdraw from the Main Residency Match.
March 17, 12pm ET
Match Week begins. On this day, you will find out whether or not you have matched. For those who did not match, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) begins, in order to try to match unmatched candidates into programs that have leftover unmatched positions.
Find out where you match. Celebrate!
Residency starts. Your first job as a doctor begins!
Best of luck everyone!
Links for Residency Interview and Match
- How to Apply for Residency
- How to Improve your MSPE Letter
- Most IMG-Friendly States
- How to Prepare for Residency Application Season
- How Many Residency Programs to Apply to?
- Questions Asked During a Residency Interview
- How to Dress for a Residency Interview
- Following Up After a Residency Interview
- Tips on Ranking Residency Programs