Overview of the Matching Program
Applicants: To be eligible to register for and participate in the AOA Match, an applicant must be graduating or have already graduated from a school or college of osteopathic medicine with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree.
Programs: To be eligible to register for and participate in the AOA Match, an internship or residency program must be currently accredited by the AOA. Programs accredited only by the ACGME are not eligible to participate in the AOA Match, even if they have gained osteopathic recognition from the ACGME.
To participate in the 2018 AOA Match, programs (with the exception of internships and Preventive Medicine-Public Health residencies) must have submitted an application for ACGME accreditation or be ACGME-accredited by January 1, 2018. Programs that had a January 1, 2017 deadline (see AOA’s Section X Program Deadlines Chart) cannot register for the AOA Match until their ACGME application has been submitted.
AOA-accredited fellowship or sub-specialty programs do not participate in the AOA Match.
Gaining Osteopathic Medical Credentials
Completion of an AOA-approved first postdoctoral year of training (OGME-1) is essential for the continuation of postdoctoral osteopathic training and future credentialing. All AOA-approved residency training programs require satisfactory completion of OGME-1 training. Likewise, completion of AOA-approved postdoctoral training is required to sit for osteopathic specialty certification board examination. It is important to note that some state licensing boards require completion of an AOA-approved OGME-1 training year.
Osteopathic physicians can complete AOA-approved OGME-1 training in two ways: (1) by entering and completing an OGME-1 year in a program accredited by the AOA, or (2) by entering and completing a PGY-1 year in a program accredited by the ACGME and getting that training recognized by the AOA. Additional information can be found here: AOA Recognition for ACGME Training
To obtain an OGME-1 position in an AOA-accredited internship or residency, or an OGME-2 position in an AOA-accredited Dermatology or Preventive Medicine-Public Health residency, students must register for and participate in the AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program (the "Match").
The AOA, ACGME and AACOM are committed to protecting residents during the transition to the single graduate medical education (GME) accreditation system. The terms of the single GME accreditation system require that the AOA no longer accredit GME programs after June 30, 2020. The three organizations recognize there may be unique circumstances whereby some programs make a good faith effort to achieve ACGME accreditation but still have not transitioned successfully to ACGME accreditation by that date. An agreement was reached by the three organizations that seeks to protect residents in such programs or situations so they have the ability to complete AOA-accredited training and advance to AOA board eligibility. The agreement gives the AOA restricted authority to extend the AOA accreditation date to allow any remaining resident in such programs to complete training in an accredited program. Please direct questions related to this agreement to email@example.com.
The Match provides an orderly process to help students obtain positions of their choice, and to help programs obtain students of their choice. Similar matching programs are also in use in other health professions, including allopathic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and psychology.
With the Match, students must still apply to programs they are interested in, and students and programs interview and evaluate each other independently of the Match. However, no offers are made by programs before or during the interview period. Students and programs can evaluate each other fully before the programs must decide on their preferences for students, and before students must decide on their preferences for programs. After all interviews are completed, each student submits a Rank Order List on which the student lists the desired programs, in numerical order of the student's preference (first choice, second choice, etc.). Similarly, each program submits a Rank Order List on which the program lists the desirable students, in order of the program's preference. Each program also indicates the number of positions the program has available.
The Match then places individuals into positions based entirely on the preferences stated in the Rank Order Lists. An example and description of how the matching algorithm is processed is described in the section of this web site on the Matching Algorithm. The result of the Match is that each student is placed with the most preferred program on the student's Rank Order List that ranks the student and does not fill all its positions with more preferred students. Similarly, each program is matched with the most preferred students on its list, up to the number of positions available, who rank the program and who do not receive positions at programs they prefer.
Preparing for the Match
There are four main steps in preparing for the Match:
- Identify opportunities
- Submit applications
- Conduct interviews
- Determine preferences for placements
1. Opportunities: The AOA Opportunities database of internship and residency positions is available on the AOA's web site at opportunities.osteopathic.org. That database contains current information on all AOA-accredited internship and residency programs. Students must apply to those institutions and programs in which they are interested.
Some OGME-1 positions are offered as internships and some as residencies. However, students should note that all OGME-1 positions, whether internship or residency, will be offered to students through the Match. In addition, OGME-2 residency positions in Dermatology and Preventive Medicine-Public Health will be offered in the Match to applicants who are currently in or have already completed OGME-1 training. See the section below titled Program Types Offered in the Match.
2. Applications: The AOA has implemented the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for students to use to apply to programs. ERAS is a separate and distinct service from the Match. ERAS is used by students to apply to programs, while the Match determines the final placement of students into programs. Information on the use of ERAS to apply to programs is available on the AOA’s web site at www.osteopathic.org.
3. Interviews: Interviews are conducted according to schedules announced by individual training institutions. Students and institutions are responsible for contacting each other to arrange interviews. The AOA is encouraging residency directors to evaluate the implementation of teleconferencing for GME interviewing in order to allow for equal access to applicants regardless of socioeconomic status. It is advisable for students to interview with several programs in order to make an informed decision regarding the best program for their individual needs. All interviews must be completed prior to the submission of Rank Order Lists for the Match by January 19, 2018.
4. Preferences: Prior to submitting preferences for the Match, students and institutions are expected to communicate openly and honestly with each other to ensure the best possible match of students and training programs. Institutions must provide complete and accurate information to applicants concerning the position(s) available, including all eligibility requirements for appointment.
Students and institutions may express their interest in each other and may discuss their expected rankings of each other. Institutions may inform their most preferred applicants that they are in a favored position, and students may similarly inform their most preferred programs. However, institutions and students must not make statements implying or requesting a commitment, and must not pressure each other to reveal their ranking intentions. Although institutions or students may volunteer how they plan to rank each other, they must not request such information. Volunteered information must be limited to "very likely", "likely", or "unlikely" to be ranked in a preferred position.
Students and institutions must not make any verbal or written commitments or contracts for appointment prior to the release of the Match results. Any such verbal or written commitments are non-binding and have no effect on the Match. Institutions shall not impose or enforce local requirements in an attempt to subvert the fair application of these rules. Institutions violating Match rules by requesting ranking information from students, or by requiring students to make verbal or written commitments or contracts before the release of the Match results, may be sanctioned by the AOA and prohibited from recruiting in the subsequent Match.
The Rank Order Lists submitted by students and programs for the Match will be the sole determinant of their respective preferences for the Match. Only the official Match results constitute binding obligations between students and institutions.
Participating in the Match
The Match is administered on behalf of the AOA by National Matching Services Inc. (NMS). Each student must register directly with NMS in order to be eligible to participate in the Match.
Students register for the Match via this web site. As part of the registration process, students must agree to comply with and be bound by the terms of the Applicant Agreement, and pay a registration fee. The AOA charges a fee of $80 USD to each student who registers for the Match. This registration fee is non-refundable, non-transferable, irrevocable, and is collected by NMS on behalf of the AOA when the student registers for the Match.
It is recommended that students register for the Match by November 1, 2017.
Following completion of the Match registration, NMS will send a confirmation by e-mail directly to each student who registers for the Match.
By the end of November, additional information on preparing and submitting Rank Order Lists for the Match, as well as the procedures for obtaining Match results, will be available to applicants and programs registered to participate in the Match.
Following interviews, students will identify on their Rank Order Lists, in numerical order of preference (first choice, second choice, etc.), the programs where they would like to be matched. Students should include on their Rank Order Lists only those programs where they would agree to accept a contract. Likewise, institutions identify on the programs' Rank Order Lists the students to whom they are prepared to offer contracts, in numerical order of preference.
Students and institutions may rank as many or as few choices as they wish on their Rank Order Lists. However, ranking too few choices may decrease the probability of a match taking place or a position being filled. Furthermore, students and programs should rank choices in true order of preference, without consideration for how they will be ranked by the other party.
Match participants will be required to enter their Rank Order Lists for the Match online via this web site. All students and programs must submit their completed Rank Order List no later than January 19, 2018.
The specific rankings submitted for the Match are confidential; students and programs do not receive information about the rankings submitted by other students and programs.
There are rare circumstances when, at the last moment, a program is discontinued or does not participate in the Match process. If this should happen, any student's Rank Order List including such a program will be processed without that program; this will have the effect of moving the remaining programs up in the preference order. Similarly, if a program has ranked a student who has withdrawn from the Match or does not submit any rankings, the program’s Rank Order List will be processed without that student, which will have the effect of moving the remaining students up in the preference order.
Couples: Two students who are participating in the Match at the same time and who wish to coordinate their matches (e.g., obtain positions in the same location) may participate in the Match as a "Couple". Students who wish to participate as a couple must each register separately for the Match. After both students have registered, they can then use the NMS Match System to identify their partner and indicate they are part of a couple. The matching of couples to positions in proximity to each other involves special procedures which allow the members of a couple to submit “pairs” of program rankings. Consult the section titled Participate as a Couple for additional information regarding the submission of Rank Order Lists by couples.
The Match places individuals into positions based entirely on the choices submitted in the Rank Order Lists. The result of the Match is that each student is placed with the most preferred program on the student’s Rank Order List that ranks the student and does not fill all its positions with more preferred students. Similarly, each program is matched with the most preferred students on its list, up to the number of positions available, who rank the program and who do not receive positions at programs they prefer. The results of the Match are binding for both the students and the institutions. Additonal information about the Match process is available in the section on the Matching Algorithm.
Note: The Match process recognizes only exact matches between students and specific programs offered by institutions. Thus, if a student and an institution have a preference for each other, but the student lists (for example) a Match Code Number that represents a traditional rotating internship program, while the institution lists the student only on a Rank Order List for a family medicine residency program, a match will not occur. The student and institution are responsible for coordinating their choices and for ensuring their Rank Order Lists contain the correct Match Code Numbers for the specific programs involved.
Program Types Offered in the Match
All programs offered in the Match provide training beginning in 2018 and meet the requirements of AOA-accredited osteopathic training. The programs and positions offered in the Match can be classified into three types:
- Traditional Rotating Internship
- OGME-1 Residency
- OGME-2 Residency
- Traditional Rotating Internship: These programs involve a one-year commitment between the student and the institution for an OGME-1 internship position only, commencing in July 2018. These positions will be of interest to students who subsequently wish to pursue a specialty program that starts specialty training in OGME-2, students who are undecided on future plans or students who are planning on entering ACGME training after OGME-1. Institutions have some flexibility in designing the composition of a traditional rotating internship. When interviewing for positions, students should discuss and negotiate directly with the institution about the curriculum included in a rotating internship.
- OGME-1 Residency: These programs involve a multi-year commitment between the student and the institution for training in a specialty, starting with OGME-1 training in 2018. These programs combine both an OGME-1 position commencing in July 2018 followed by continued training in an OGME-2 residency position in the specialty in July 2019. (Note: the trainee must successfully complete OGME-1 training in order to continue into the OGME-2 position.)
- OGME-2 Residency: These programs involve multi-year training that begins with OGME-2 training in 2018. Students must successfully complete separate OGME-1 training before beginning OGME-2 training in 2018. Applicants attempting to match to an OGME-2 position that starts training in 2018 must have already completed, or be in the process of completing, their OGME-1 training when they rank these programs in the Match. Only Dermatology and Preventive Medicine-Public Health residency programs may participate in the Match as OGME-2 Residencies, as outlined below.
- Diagnostic Radiology, Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and OMT, Ophthalmology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pathology and Radiation Oncology: For these specialties, the OGME-1 year consists of a prerequisite Preliminary year of training providing a designated curriculum for the specialty, but no specialty training credit is given for the OGME-1 year. The residency programs in these specialties will make arrangements for the OGME-1 Preliminary year for their students. As a result, these programs also participate in the Match as OGME-1 Residencies, where the OGME-1 Preliminary year and the specialty residency training starting in OGME-2 are combined and offered together as a single program in the Match. Students will match to one program that incorporates both the specialty residency program and the prerequisite OGME-1 year.
- Dermatology: Dermatology programs have the option of offering positions that start training in OGME-1 and/or positions that start training in OGME-2. Therefore, two different types of Dermatology programs may be offered in the Match:
- OGME-1 Residency: The applicant will match to one program that provides OGME-1 training in 2018, followed by OGME-2 training in Dermatology starting in 2019. The residency program will make arrangements for the OGME-1 training of its students.
- OGME-2 Residency: The applicant will match to a program that starts OGME-2 training in 2018. Applicants to OGME-2 Dermatology positions must currently be in or have already completed OGME-1 training when ranking these positions.
- Preventive Medicine-Public Health: This specialty requires completion of a separate OGME-1 traditional rotating internship prior to beginning the residency program. Programs in this specialty participate in the Match as OGME-2 Residencies. Students interested in obtaining an OGME-2 position in this specialty through the Match must currently be in or have already completed OGME-1 training.
By the beginning of November, a list of the specific internship and residency programs offered by each institution participating in the Match will be provided on this web site.
Students with Military Commitments
Students with military commitments will participate in the government's military matching program, which is completed prior to the AOA Match process. Students who have been assigned to a military program cannot participate in the AOA Match and must inform NMS of their military position by January 19, 2018.
Students who have not been assigned to a military program, but who have a military commitment, may fully participate in the AOA Match. It is the student's responsibility to advise programs of the potential for military obligations during the interview process.
If a trainee participates in a Federal/Military postdoctoral training program, the trainee may apply for AOA approval by contacting the AOA. Students are advised to seek such approval to keep open the opportunity for expanded practice options, as well as the option of AOA certification in any chosen specialty.
Match Results and Contracts
The results of the Match will be available for all participants (students and institutions), as well as for the colleges of osteopathic medicine and OPTIs, on February 5, 2018. The results of the Match are binding.
The institution must complete an institutional contract for each matched student, and send it within 10 working days after receipt of the Match results to the student for his/her signature. Failure to do so places the institution in violation of its Match commitments and could jeopardize continuation of the program. In addition, if an institution fails to send a contract to a matched student within 10 working days, the student may be released from the Match obligation without prejudice.
After receiving the contract from the institution, the student has thirty (30) days in which to sign the contract and return it to the institution. Beyond 30 days, the institution has the right to notify the student of its decision to withdraw the contract offer. In such cases, when a contract is withdrawn because the student fails to sign it, the student is in violation of his/her Match commitment. Such a breach of contract precludes the student from taking any other AOA-accredited training program for one (1) year, and from AOA approval of any postdoctoral training during that year. Only students for whom the institution has a signed institutional contract may receive credit for the training year.
Note: Only the student and the institution are parties to the contract. Neither the American Osteopathic Association nor National Matching Services Inc. is a party to the contract, and thus neither has legal standing to intervene in contract disputes.
Withdrawing Matched Students from the NRMP®
Students who are matched through the AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program, and who also have registered to participate in the NRMP® Main Match in the same year, will have their AOA Match status communicated to the NRMP®. The NRMP® will automatically withdraw these matched students from that year's NRMP® Main Match for concurrent programs. Specifically, a student who is matched in the 2018 AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program to a traditional rotating internship (OGME-1 only) will not be permitted to participate in the 2018 NRMP® Main Match for a PGY-1 position. Also, a student who is matched in the 2018 AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program to a specialty residency program that starts in OGME-1 or OGME-2 will not be permitted to participate in the 2018 NRMP® Main Match for a PGY-1 or PGY-2 position.
Unmatched Students and Unfilled Programs
Every year, a small number of students fail to match with any of their ranked programs. Students who fail to match initially are provided with information on programs with available positions for them to contact. Likewise, programs with available positions are provided with information regarding unmatched students to contact. Thus, opportunities to obtain a position may still exist after the Match. Students who do not obtain a position in the Match and programs with positions available may contact each other directly, independently of the Match, after the release of the Match results.
Release from Match Obligation
Release from Match commitments and the mutually agreed upon contractual obligations of either party can only be achieved through a written release by mutual consent, which is generally done by both parties signing the appropriate release section on the contract. The contract is a binding legal document between the institution and the student, and there may be legal ramifications if either party breaches the contract.
Nonparticipation in the Match
The importance of participating in the Match cannot be overstated because of its impact on students' future credentialing, board certification and practice options.
If a student does not participate in the Match, but later desires to enter an AOA-accredited internship or residency program, the student should consult the AOA Post-Match web site at osteopathic.org/aoapostmatch to view a list of available positions, then contact an institution directly. When an agreement is reached with an institution, both parties must sign an institutional contract.
NRMP is a registered trademark of National Resident Matching Program