Success in medical school: Residency Match


Medical school culminates in matching to a residency program. For medical students, along with getting their degree, this is the goal they have been striving for over four years of study: the critical next step in their journey to becoming a practicing physician.

The Match journey can be filled with unexpected twists and turns, and it’s natural to feel a little daunted, even overwhelmed, as you look across the steps to get from your final year of medical school to your first year in a residency program.

Take a deep breath. You’re not alone. Planning is key on the road to residency, and there’s comfort in knowing many have done this before and succeeded. Resources and strategies exist that can help you to create your plan for Match and beyond.

Get ready for Match Week

Access timely resources from the AMA to help you successfully navigate Match Week and beyond.

Identifying the steps to Match and breaking them into phases with their own tasks and timelines can help make the process feel more manageable. 

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Medical student sitting on a stack of textbooks

The summer before your fourth year of medical school is a good time to assemble and finalize necessary items for program applications: letters of recommendation, CV and personal statement. You’ll also want to obtain your token for the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), which will allow your school to send these materials to program directors.

Next you’ll want to spend time researching your options. FREIDA™, the AMA’s residency and fellowship database, is a great resource for learning about the more than 13,000 accredited programs in the U.S.

From there, you can apply to programs via ERAS starting in September of your M4 year. You should also register for the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Main Residency Match at this point.

Invitations from programs to interview will begin to arrive in early October and can run into November. This is a good time to prepare questions for each program, focusing on how they can fit your desired career path. Following each interview, send a follow-up thank you.

The NRMP’s Match ranking process opens in January, generally with a deadline in early March. This is when you’ll certify and submit your final program ranking list. And from there, you wait for Match Day.

This is a broad outline, and you may have questions about many (or all) of these steps. Thankfully the American Medical Association is here to help.

The AMA offers a wide range of resources to fully prepare you for all the steps in the residency application process and to make wise choices for your career path. The AMA also provides timely guidance on making the most of residency once you start in a program, with resources and tips on navigating the fast-paced demands of training.

Medical students can take advantage of these residency Match opportunities:

    • Search for a residency or fellowship from more than 13,000 programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Get access to a member-only residency calculator and dashboard, where you can save, compare and rank programs.
  • Master the Match
    • Access resources from the AMA to successfully navigate Match Week and beyond.
  • The Road to Residency
    • Find guidance on how to prepare for residency with the AMA.
  • Thriving in Residency
    • Subscribe for guidance on making the most of medical residency. Get tips on managing the demands of training, well-being and medical school loan debt.

Become a member to take advantage of AMA student resources, as well as a wide range of benefits and discounts.

Supporting you today as a medical student. Protecting your future as a physician.