The NRMP Board of Directors is evaluating the feasibility of a proposed Two-Phase Main Residency Match, to replace the current Match® and Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®) processes and requests your input. The public comment period will be open through Friday, September 2, 2022, and may be accessed: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6961115/2022-Two-Phase-Match-Survey.
Why consider a change to the Match? Since 1952, the mission of the NRMP (“The Match®”) has been in part to provide a matching process that is fair, equitable, efficient, transparent, and reliable for all participants. To that end, the NRMP matching process has worked to reduce inappropriate persuasion of applicants by programs, to support the agency of applicants throughout the recruitment cycle, and to protect outcomes for all participants through policies reinforcing a binding commitment. In 2012, SOAP was established to address instability and inequity during the post-Match period known as the “Scramble”, an ungoverned period during Match Week whereby unmatched or partially matched applicants attempted to obtain unfilled positions through an “open market”. While SOAP has objectively improved the process for obtaining unfilled positions, the process relies on a highly compressed timeline and program-preferenced offers to applicants. Increasing numbers of applicants, broad variation in recruitment methodologies by programs, and increasing stress among applicants and programs, leads the NRMP to consider possible solutions to alleviate some of the stressors inherent in the current transition to residency based on available evidence.
The time is ripe to seek ways in which improved Match processes and policies may:
- Address issues impacting applicant wellness and agency: Enhance processes that promote equity for all applicants, provide for applicant preferencing throughout the Match cycle, which is not provided for in SOAP, and reduce stressors associated with the current structure of Match Week.
- Establish capacity for thoughtful decision-making: Create opportunity for more thoughtful career development decision-making, allowing more time for applicants to seek advice and make well-reasoned decisions about training.
- Support a holistic approach to the application and interview period: Adjust timelines to support proactive, holistic application review and interview strategies, facilitating a program’s ability to more thoroughly gauge alignment of applicant characteristics with program aims and mission.
Two-Phase Match Framework: A Two-Phase Match proposes two complete Match cycles within the footprint of the current Match period (September through March) and eliminating the current Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®).
Guiding Principles: While not all encompassing, the following are overarching principles of a Two-Phase Match proposal:
- Each phase:
- Requires submission of rank order lists by both applicants and programs, which is currently offered only during The Match (and not SOAP)
- Utilizes the matching algorithm (applicant-proposing)
- Provides for time between each phase for applicants to research and vet program choices
- Provides for time between each phase for programs to engage in holistic review
- Increases the time for contact between programs and applicants not provided for in the compressed timelines of SOAP
- Has two Match Days, providing for the release of the full results to all participants to facilitate transition planning and program planning
- Unmatched applicants and unfilled programs are rolled over from Phase One fostering continuity of participation, with outcomes and agreements from Phase One honored throughout Phase Two.
- Programs newly accredited by the ACGME, after the Rank Order List (ROL) Certification Deadline for Phase One, may register to participate in Phase Two.
- Applicants who are ineligible to participate in Phase One, and whose eligibility status changes, would be allowed to register for and participate in Phase Two.
Summary and Request for Public Comment: Achieving fair and equitable processes for all participants across the matching cycle remains a critical principle of the Match. A Two-Phase Match would provide for preferencing by all participants in all phases of the Match, reduce some of the stressors inherent in the current matching and SOAP process, and improve the Match experience without altering the general Match timeline. However, the NRMP is cognizant that an evolution of the Main Residency Match process could result in changes in application, interview, and ranking behaviors, impact current eligibility verification timelines, and require a reimagining of Match Day ceremonies into more general Match celebrations. To that end, the NRMP Board is soliciting public comment on the perceived benefits and challenges associated with implementation of a Two-Phase Match.
For those who wish to read a more detailed statement that includes information about NRMP’s history and the SOAP process, please click here. The public comment period will be open through Friday, September 2, 2022, and may be accessed: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6961115/2022-Two-Phase-Match-Survey.
On behalf of the NRMP Board of Directors and NRMP Staff, I thank you for your time and input regarding this very important discussion.
Donna L. Lamb, DHSc, MBA, BSN
President and Chief Executive Officer