NRMP Board of Directors Revises Policy to Ensure an Equitable Match Process

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New rules on applicant-program communication, rank order list length, and the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program for unfilled residency positions.

The Match: National Resident Matching Program
Changes were made this year in an effort to balance the needs of constituents and improve system usability.

The Board of Directors of the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) convened its annual meeting May 8-9, 2016, and among the Board’s activities was a review of NRMP policies related to participation in the Main Residency Match and the Specialties Matching Service. Changes were made to policies addressing applicant-program communication, rank order list length, and the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®). All changes are effective for Matches opening after June 30, 2016.

“The Board of Directors is committed to ensuring a fair Match process and an optimal user experience for applicants, medical schools, and training programs,” said NRMP President and CEO Mona M. Signer. “Changes were made this year in an effort to balance the needs of constituents and improve system usability.”

Policy Changes

  • For many years, NRMP has prohibited applicants and programs from asking each other about ranking preferences, and since 2009, programs have been prohibited from requiring applicants to reveal information about their interviews; however, anecdotal reports and scholarly research indicate some applicants continue to be pressured inappropriately during and after the interview. For that reason, the Board of Directors voted to prohibit programs from requesting the names, specialties, geographic location, or other identifying information about programs to which applicants have or may apply.
  • Since 2011, the number of couples in the Main Residency Match with rank order lists (ROLs) exceeding 500 ranks has risen from 8 to 60, and a few couples have entered ROLs with more than 1,000 ranks. Because excessively long lists degrade the user experience of other Match participants, the Board of Directors voted to limit the number of ranks on couples’ rank order lists to 700.
  • Data from the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Main Residency Matches show that few unfilled positions are offered in Rounds 4 and 5 of the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP); accordingly, the Board of Directors voted to reduce the number of SOAP rounds to three and to conclude SOAP at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Thursday of Match Week. All communication restrictions will be lifted at that time, and an updated List of Unfilled Programs will be available at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Resources
Read more about the policy changes

The Match Process
Applicants submit to the NRMP their rank order lists of preferred programs, and program directors rank applicants in order of preference for training. The NRMP uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to match applicants with programs using the preferences expressed on their ranked lists. Research on the NRMP algorithm was a basis for awarding The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 2012. During Match Week, applicants who did not match to a residency position when the algorithm was processed may participate in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) to try to obtain an unfilled residency position.

About NRMP
The National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®), or The Match®, is a private, non-profit organization established in 1952 at the request of medical students to provide an orderly and fair mechanism for matching the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors. In addition to the annual Main Residency Match® for more than 42,000 registrants, the NRMP conducts Fellowship Matches for more than 60 subspecialties through its Specialties Matching Service® (SMS®).

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Diane Greenhalgh
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