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Learning About Early Match Programs

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The Match is a uniform system used to fill residency programs with incoming residents. There are 4 specialties that participate in an early match process:

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Urology

Each specialty handles the process differently. Some are affiliated with the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP) and some are not. The military also has its own match program.

Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology and Plastic Surgery (The SF Match)

The San Francisco (SF) Residency and Fellowship Match Services oversees the matching process for neurosurgery and ophthalmology residencies. They also coordinate plastic surgery residencies for applicants who have completed 3 years of general surgery. Applicants can register for the match online and download the Centralized Application Service materials.

The application and all required documents should be completed and submitted by August, but individual programs may have their own specific deadlines. Interviews typically run from October through early January. Rank lists are due in January; match results are released later that same month. Unmatched applicants eligible for the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®) can initiate contact with the directors of unfilled programs through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Urology Match

The Urology Match is an independently run match process by the American Urological Association.

Interested applicants should contact each of the programs they are interested in and follow the application and interview procedures. Each program has their own program requirements, application deadlines, policies regarding pre-urology training and guidelines on whether participation in the NRMP is necessary or not.

Participation in ERAS is on an individual program basis. Check with ERAS for information and a list of participating programs.

Applicants should register for the urology match by December of their 4th year and submit preference lists online to the Urology Residency Matching Program by January. Applicants schedule interviews with the residency programs directly between September and early January. The matching process occurs in January; the results are released by the end of the month.

Military Match

The military Joint Service Graduate Medical Education Selection Board (JSGMESB) is the body that selects individuals for internship and residency training as well as for operational medicine tours. Students in the Health Professions Scholarship Program and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences who are applying for postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) positions go through this process.

Some aspects of this process are similar to the civilian NRMP process. Applicants still use ERAS to upload and release personal statements, letters of recommendation and Step 1 and Step 2 USMLE scores. Postgraduate year 2 (PGY-2+) requires a separate application and a repeat of the Match process.

An important difference is that military students complete a different online application that includes ranking programs. The deadline for all materials is early to mid-October to ensure consideration at the selection board meeting at the end of November. The selection board results are released by mid-December. Rather than a computer-generated match list, the JSGMESB decision-making process involves discussion and negotiation between specialties, programs, faculty and applicants. Unlike in the NRMP, a student can be placed in a program they did not rank in their rank list.

Osteopathic Match

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Intern/Resident Registration Program is a matching program sponsored and supervised by the AOA that places students into osteopathic training positions in the United States for their 1st postdoctoral year of training (OGME-1). The Intern/Resident Registration Program is administered on behalf of the AOA by National Matching Services.

Like the allopathic match process, osteopathic applicants still apply directly to the programs that interest them. Programs interview and evaluate each applicant independently of the Match. After all interviews are completed, each student submits a rank-order list. Similarly, each program submits a rank-order list of desirable students in the order of the program’s preference. Each program also indicates the number of positions the program has available.

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