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The Match Process

What do I do if I am not matched with a residency program after the NMS match?

  • Prior to the announcement of match result, IF you are not matched, you will receive notification along with a list of residencies participating in the “SCRAMBLE,” the post-match process that helps match programs with vacant positions with students still needing a post-graduate position. You may also choose to delay post-graduate education for a year. Another option is applying to an allopathic post-graduate program through the NRMP match. Time will be very short, so if your elect to pursue this option, immediate action will be necessary.    The allopathic match starts in mid March.  During this week the “Scramble” officially begins on Tuesday at noon eastern time  , when the NRMP posts the List of Unfilled Programs to its web site, and continues until noon on Thursday, when U.S. medical schools hold their Match Day ceremonies. Although the unfilled positions remain posted until May 1 in the NRMP Registration, Ranking, and Results (R3) System, few are available after the first 48 hours.  In 2012 the “managed Scramble” should be introduced which will condense the time frame to the 48 hour period with one or two hour increments for offers.

Program Selection

What do I need to do to get accepted into a very competitive post-graduate program?

  • The process of qualifying for a post-graduate program starts on day one of medical school. Most post-graduate education programs set their own selection criteria, which they feel best serves their program. Osteopathic medical students are highly competitive in all venues—allopathic as well as osteopathic. The bigger question you need to get answered is, “Which program is RIGHT for ME?”  Check out the information about selection criteria and use it to help you prepare yourself for that next educational opportunity.

Is an “Audition Rotation” required for consideration at a post-graduate program?

  • Generally, an “audition rotation” is not required. Such a rotation may, however, provide you with additional information with which to evaluate the program and its ‘fit’ for you. In addition, it gives program personnel the opportunity to evaluate you and your work. If you choose to do this, plan to have it completed by December 1 of your last year in medical school.

Which residencies are preferred if I am interested in continuing to a fellowship program?

  • Your best chance of being accepted into a program will depend on your credentials, though preference may be given to candidates who completed their primary residency in the same institution. It is always a good idea to inquire directly of the program and see where current fellows did their residencies. 

Board Exams

Must I take USMLE board exams to apply to an allopathic post-graduate program?

  • Each post-graduate program—allopathic and osteopathic—sets its own selection criteria.  Many allopathic programs accept COMLEX-USA scores on par with USMLE, while others will require all applicants to take USMLE.  Check with each program under your consideration to ascertain which licensure board exams are required for applicants. 

Which ACGME programs accept COMLEX without requiring the USMLE?

  • Each program determines which set of board scores it will accept. You are well-advised to ask specific programs under your consideration about their requirements. Remember that as an osteopathic physician, COMLEX will be required for state licensure and USMLE cannot be substituted in that case.

Any advice on whether or not to take the USMLE Step 1?

  • Choosing to take USMLE Step 1 may broaden your opportunities later. Many students make this choice before they have determined which specialty to pursue.  Persons following a military path can present either set of scores for consideration in post-graduate programs, so it is not necessary to take USMLE. Basically, the value of also having USMLE scores will be program-specific as well as specialty-specific, so do your homework before it is too late.

What is the minimum board score that will assure my acceptance into a given program?

  • Each program determines its own threshold on scores, which are but one factor in the total set of credentials which go into the decision process of the program’s final rank order list. In general, there is no ‘minimum’ score, though some highly-competitive programs may use scores as initial screening criteria. Check with programs under your consideration about their processes.

Application Process

Can I apply to more than one specialty field?

  • You may apply to as many programs and specialties as you wish. However, in doing so, you are setting up a situation where you will be comparing apples to oranges in making your final decision about your rank order list. It also will mean additional time and money to complete the interviews, not to mention additional time away from your clinical rotations. Your school likely has some limits on the amount of time that you can be away for interviews. Be sure to check on that and pace yourself accordingly. 

Can I apply to more than one residency program in a given specialty?

  • You can apply to any number of different residencies at any number of different sites. Program directors, however, will question your interest in their program when they know you are considering others. Program directors know this information only if you tell them. You want to be honest and not waste the program’s interview time OR your time, so you should have your choices narrowed down before you begin the interview process. 

Is there a correlation between a student’s class rank and the program in which he/she is accepted for post-graduate education?

  • Programs to which a student applies will consider all of your credentials—medical school grades, board scores, class rank, recommendations, application, leadership activities, etc.  That does not mean that you will not be accepted if you are in the lower quartile of your graduating class. It is a competition for the best places and best applicants. You will want to have every competitive advantage possible. Advisors and mentors are sources of additional information about particular specialties and programs.

What is the advantage of doing a traditional rotating internship prior to residency?

  • A student who is uncertain of his/her long-term goal would be a candidate for a traditional rotating internship prior to residency. Some residency programs require a preliminary year/transitional year of some sort before entering a residency as a PGY2. Also, five states (Pennsylvania, Florida, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Michigan), require AOA-approved first-year post-graduate education for state licensure. Check out your specialty choice and the options for OGME1 based on your specialty. Significant changes were made for students graduating in 2008.  Make sure you have done your homework when making this decision.

My school uses a Pass/Fail grading system.  How will that be viewed by programs in which I am interested?

  • Many schools use Pass/Fail rather than actual grades, and programs factor that into their consideration of applicants’ credentials.  

Student Electives

What time of year should I visit a prospective program for an elective?

  • You should plan to visit a program in which you are interested by December 1 of your fourth year. Allopathic programs and some osteopathic programs are still interviewing in early January, but that may be a little late for them.

What is the advantage of doing a traditional rotating internship prior to residency?

  • A student who is uncertain of his/her long-term goal would be a candidate for a traditional rotating internship prior to residency. Some residency programs require a preliminary year/transitional year of some sort before entering a residency as a PGY2. Also, four states (Pennsylvania, Florida, Oklahoma and Michigan), require AOA-approved first year post-graduate education for state licensure. Check out your specialty choice and the options for OGME1 based on your specialty. Significant changes were made for students graduating in 2008. Make sure you have done your homework when making this decision.

Additional Questions?

AACOM staff do not rate or rank programs or answer questions about specific sites or educational programs. These are best answered by contacting staff at the site or program. We do invite questions that you do not find answers to on this resource. Please send those questions to meded@aacom.org,  and we will consider adding them and our responses to our list of frequently asked questions.