Getting into Residency: Rank Order Lists

 

All of the North American organizations (CaRMS, NRMP, SFMatch, AUA Match) use a mathematical algorithm to run their residency match. This means that each applicant submits an electronic list of his/her preferred programs while each residency program submits a list of its preferred applicants, and computer software runs “The Match” linking applicants with their most preferred program that also ranked them high enough to match.

When it comes to creating and submitting your rank order list, there are just two things you should keep in mind:

  1. KNOW your deadlines and abide by them. If you miss a Rank Order List deadline, you are not participating in the match.

  2. Rank ALL programs that you interviewed at and would be willing to go to. If you are considering not ranking a program at which you interviewed, ask yourself the question: “Would I rather match to this program than go unmatched?” If the answer is yes, then you should definitely rank that program, even though it would obviously be a lower choice.

  3. Rank programs in the actual order that you would prefer to be matched to them, regardless of how you think they will rank you. This is the only way that the Match works best.
    Example: If you really like Program A best but you think that you have a better chance of matching to Program B, you should still list Program A first in your rank order list. You in no way jeopardize your chances of matching to a program that you have ranked lower by ranking other programs above it. Even if you rank Program B last, the system tries to match you to all of your more highly ranked programs, but if there is no match with those programs, the system moves to Program B. If they ranked you highly, you will still match there with the same probability that you had of matching there had you ranked them first. DO NOT TRY TO SECOND GUESS PROGRAM RANKINGS – just go ahead and enter your rank order list with programs in the exact order that you prefer them.

  4. Once you have reflected, created, and submitted your Rank Order List, avoid second guessing yourself. The match agencies have shown that applicants who change their lists at the last minute tend to be less satisfied with their match.
     

Next: Match Day