How Couples Matching Works
The Registration, Ranking, and Results® (R3®) system allows couples participating in the same Match to form pairs of program choices on their rank order lists that are considered in rank order when the matching algorithm is processed. A couple will match to the most preferred pair of programs on their rank order lists where each partner has been offered a position.
In the Main Residency Match®, the algorithm considers only a couple’s primary rank order lists when attempting to find a match and does NOT treat a couple’s supplemental rank order lists as a unit.
How to Participate in an NRMP Match as a Couple
Partners must register individually for a Match and then specify in the R3 system that they want to participate in that Match as a couple. Individuals must be registered in the same Match in order to be able to participate as a couple.
Couples can be matched into a combination of programs that are best suited to their personal needs. In creating pairs of programs, couples can mix:
- program types (preliminary or transitional, categorical, and advanced)
- geographic locations
Helpful Guidelines about Matching as a Couple
- Each partner must have the same number of ranks.
- Each program ranked by one partner must be paired with an active program or with an indication of “No Match” (For residency applicants: NRMP Program Code = 999999999; For fellowship applicants: NRMP Program Code=888888888) by the other partner. “No Match” means that one partner is willing to be unmatched if the other partner matches to a position in the program designated at that rank.
- If one partner withdraws from an NRMP Match, BOTH partners must uncouple before either can withdraw. The remaining partner should adjust his or her rank order list accordingly and must recertify it before it can be used in a Match.
- Partners listed as a couple are treated by the matching algorithm solely as a couple. If they do not obtain a match as a couple, the algorithm will not process their lists separately to find a possible match for each individual.
Specific to the Main Residency Match:
- Each partner of a couple may rank up to 20 unique programs on their primary rank order lists and up to 20 unique programs on all their supplemental rank order lists combined before incurring an additional charge.
- If a partner’s rank is for an advanced position, a supplemental rank order list for that program also must be prepared by that partner unless the required first-year program already has been completed.
- If both partners choose advanced positions, each must prepare separate supplemental rank order lists.
- The coupling function is done only for the primary rank order lists of the two partners. If both partners match to advanced programs, their supplemental rank order lists are not treated as a unit; thus, supplemental rank order lists should be assigned to each rank on the basis of geography.