The transition to residency is an exciting yet challenging time. While many applicants are tackling the demands of medical school, all are reflecting on the next chapter in their professional journey, one that includes the application, selection, and match to a residency program that will, for most, chart the course of their professional lives.  At the same time, clinical training programs are examining the needs of their patient populations and determining how to recruit a resident class that can both respond to and learn from the unique health needs their patients present. There is much at stake.  To create a process that is void of stress and anxiety is unrealistic; however, there are steps all stakeholders can take to minimize pressure while promoting an atmosphere of wellness and respect. This is particularly true during the recruitment phase of the transition.

The National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) has heard the concerns of learners and programs in the medical education community about the interview process and wants to encourage equitable practices among applicants and programs. As such we have developed the following recommendations. Although especially true during the enduring times of the pandemic, the recommendations align with the NRMP’s long-standing commitment to maintaining a fair, efficient, reliable, and transparent process for all. Recommendations also foster well-being among all parties.

NRMP Recommendations for Programs

  1. Programs should conduct all interviews virtually for the 2021-2022 cycle.
  2. Programs should extend interview offers that equal, not exceed, the total number of available interview slots.
  3. Applicants should be given a minimum of 48 hours to respond to an interview offer.

NRMP Recommendations for Applicants

  1. Applicants should make timely decisions about interview offers and promptly notify programs in which they are no longer interested, freeing up interview slots.
  2. Applicants should give ample, adequate (e.g., one week) notice to programs in the event they change their minds and decline accepted interviews.

Programs and applicants can set an example of ethical and fair practices during the interview season.  Applicants should not need to wait by the phone or employ family and friends to monitor phones and emails out of worry an interview offer will be missed.  It creates unnecessary stress and distraction and can, more significantly, disrupt critical learning during clinical rotations.  At the same time, programs should have some reassurance that offers extended will be responded to in a reasonable amount of time and that interview offers accepted earnestly will be honored. Applicants who renege on interviews disrupt program schedules and potentially cause other genuinely interested applicants to miss interview opportunities altogether.

All Match participants are reminded that Section 6.1 of the Match Participation Agreements for both Programs and Applicants mandates a Duty to Act in an Ethical and Professional Manner, “…throughout the application, interview, matching process, and SOAP.”  Moreover, the NRMP’s Codes of Conduct for both Programs and Applicants have been revised this year to better reference professional and ethical behavior during the interview, ranking, and matching processes.  NRMP will expand its Codes of Conduct in the future to incorporate the recommendations outlined above.

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