The 2019-2020 match season will be the first without a separate AOA match as the transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education comes to a close. In March 2020, most students will match into residency through the National Residency Matching Program Main Residency Match.
Mona Signer, outgoing president and CEO of the NRMP, estimates that 44,000 applicants will register for The Match. Those who get interview invitations–about 39,000 applicants–will submit rank order lists.
Before the transition to a single GME system, about 75-80% of students at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine matched through the NRMP Match, says Melva Landrum, assistant director of advising and career development at UNTHSC-TCOM and a member of AACOM’s UME-GME Working Group for Preparing for the Single Residency Match.
Even without the AOA Match, Landrum is confident that the vast majority of UNTHSC-TCOM students who enter the NRMP Match will find success. In the 2019 match season, only 13 out of 224 UNTHSC-TCOM students matched into AOA programs. The majority of students matched through the NRMP Match.
“As an advisor, I’m looking at the 2020 class as the second class in the single GME system,” Landrum says. “A large chunk of programs already had already received ACGME accreditation during the 2019 residency match.”
So what are the need-to-knows about this year’s main residency match?
1. You can still find programs that have transitioned from AOA to ACGME accreditation.
The AOA has a list of programs that have successfully transitioned from AOA to ACGME accreditation. Eighty-seven percent of positions in AOA programs are now ACGME-accredited.
All AOA programs in neurology, neuromusculoskeletal medicine (three-year programs), physical medicine and rehabilitation and urological surgery have achieved ACGME accreditation.
You can find the accreditation status of programs that are in the process of becoming ACGME-accredited here.
2. There’s no need to worry about matching into an unaccredited program.
Programs can’t participate in the 2020 Match or in ERAS unless they have obtained ACGME initial accreditation.
If a program gets ACGME initial accreditation before the NRMP deadline for match participation on Jan. 31, 2020, they can participate in the match. This is also the last day for programs to change the number of positions they plan on offering for the match or withdraw from the match.
Some programs that have applied for ACGME initial accreditation may get it between now and the match participation deadline. NRMP will also allow programs that are granted initial accreditation shortly after the deadline to enter the match.
Match applicants can check a program’s ACGME accreditation status or ask a program about their status directly.
3. Students who want to train in osteopathically focused programs can look for programs with osteopathic recognition.
If you’re interested in training in a program that emphasizes osteopathic principles and practice, look for programs with an ACGME designation of osteopathic recognition. You can use the ACGME search tool to find a full list of these programs.
Students can also use filters in NRMP’s R3 ranking and match results system to view programs with osteopathic recognition when putting together their rank order list.
Of the 215 programs with osteopathic recognition, 15% were not previously AOA-accredited.
“These are a whole new batch of programs that are recruiting osteopathic students because they value your training,” Landrum says.
4. It’s a good idea to read the NRMP match agreement and policies.
Pay close attention to NRMP policies, specifically when it comes to post-interview and post-match communication.
“With AOA programs, there was a bit more flexibility when it came to advocating for students during the match and after the match, but with the NRMP match, there is no communication between medical schools and residency programs during the post-match process,” Landrum says.
Signer urges students to become familiar with the match participation agreement. If a match occurs, it is a binding commitment and a contractual obligation that only NRMP can release you from. The AOA Match allowed a match to be terminated if a program and student mutually agreed to end it. This is not the case for the NRMP Match.
“Create your rank order list carefully,” Signer says. “Don’t put a program on there unless you want to train there.”
5. Under the single GME accreditation system, more physicians qualify for AOA board certification.
While matching may be your main focus now, you’ll soon be thinking about board certification.
The AOA now allows DOs who have trained in AOA or ACGME programs to take AOA board examinations. You can learn more about AOA board certification here.
The single accreditation system only governs GME training. Other entities oversee board certification requirements and medical school accreditation. ACGME’s common program requirements state that AOA board certification is a valid credential for ACGME program directors and faculty. Program directors are also required to give applicants and residents information on AOA board certification.