Considerations for Medical Students and Advisors After an Unsuccessful Match

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Abstract

Increasing numbers of graduating U.S. medical students are not securing a graduate medical education (GME) position, even after participating in the National Resident Matching Program (also known as “the Match”) and the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program. The reasons for an unsuccessful Match include increasing numbers of applicants compared with nearly unchanging numbers of available GME positions, academic problems or professionalism lapses, and a poor fit between applicants and their first-choice specialty.

In this Perspective, the authors (1) examine the current Match landscape; (2) discuss the environmental factors that affect that Match landscape such as increasing medical school enrollment without a corresponding increase in GME positions; (3) review historical data on unmatched MD students; (4) discuss medical schools’ responsibilities to unmatched students and to society; (5) explore controversial issues related to unmatched students, including graduation delays and altering the Medical Student Performance Evaluation for subsequent Match applications; and (6) outline various pathways for unmatched students to secure a GME position in the future or to pursue an alternative, nonclinical position. Finally, they share guidelines for advising unmatched students in the weeks and months following an unsuccessful Match. These recommendations aim to clarify what options exist, and are practical, for unmatched students, with the hope that further study will enable the development of best practices in this area.

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