Learning about early match programs

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The Main Residency Match is a uniform system run by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to fill the majority of residency programs with incoming residents. Medical students pursuing specialties submit their rank order lists by early March of their fourth year and receive news of their matching later that month. 

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There are several physician specialties, however, that participate in an early match process. Not all are affiliated with the NRMP. The military, for example, has its own match program. Following are details.

The SF Match oversees the matching process for ophthalmology residencies. 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 early January for programs. Applicants have until later in the month to submit their rank lists, thus allowing for “second looks” by applicants. Match results are released in February.

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).

The Urology Residency Match Program is an independent match process run by the American Urological Association. Interested applicants should contact each of the programs they are interested in and follow the application and interview procedures. Participation in ERAS is on an individual program basis. Check with ERAS for a list of participating programs.

Each program has its own program requirements, application deadlines and policies regarding pre-urology training.

Applicants should register for the Urology Match by October of their fourth year and submit preference lists online to the Urology Residency Match Program by January. Programs start offering interview slots in October. The preference list and interview deadlines are in early January; the results of the Urology Match are released in early February. 

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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 PGY-1 positions go through this process. 

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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 results or COMLEX Level 1 and 2 results. Postgraduate year 2 requires a separate application and a repeat of the match process.

An important difference is that military medical students complete a different application that includes ranking programs. Applications may be submitted through the Medical Operational Data System website, although it is not accessible from computers not on the military network. Instead, applicants complete a fillable PDF and submit it by email.

Deadlines for materials begin in late August and run through mid-October. 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. 

There’s another match for public health and general preventive medicine programs, which is run by the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM). Learn more about how the ACPM Standardized Application Process works.

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