What will the 2021-2022 MATCH look like?

August 27, 2021

By Thomas Pak, Adrianna Diviero, Donato Mignones, Erum Chowdhry 

This piece is one of a series of AMSA Medical Education pieces for 2021-2022. Learn more about the Medical Education Team and get updates here

COVID-19 changed the MATCH. What’s next?

COVID-19 drastically affected medical education and residency application for 2020-2021. Students were not allowed to attend in-person clinical rotation for part of the year, and students were limited on their away rotation, which serves as a pseudo-audition to get into the program. Notably, Step 2 Clinical Skills was indefinitely canceled. In addition, interviews for rotations went all virtual.  

With these changes behind us, and yet more to come, the AMSA Medical Education Team reviewed the recommendations and changes for the 2021-2022 residency applications for each speciality. We looked at recommendations for virtual interviews, away rotations,  interview caps, and other unique recommendations. We have a compiled list of recommendations organized by specialty accessible here through google sheets.  

Virtual Interview Recommendations

On August 24, 2021, the Coalition of Physician Accountability (CPA) recommended conducting virtual interviews for the 2021-22 Recruitment Cycle, noting the risk of the delta variant. In addition, nearly every specialty organization or association recommended virtual interviews. The American Orthopaedic Association was the only one that deferred to individual programs, but this was before the CPA recommendations. There were a few specialties that we did not find a statement regarding virtual interviews.

Away Rotation Recommendations

For  away rotations, the Coalition for Physician Accountability (CPA) gave recommendations to limit approved away rotations in any specialty to one per learner, per speciality. CPA gave an exception if additional rotations are needed to complete graduation or accreditation requirements. Most specialties abided by the recommendations.  A few specialties also included the exception if the home medical school institution does not have their respective specialty program in that home institution. The American Orthopaedic Association distinctly discouraged limitations on away rotations, but noted it should abide by the medical school’s guidelines. 

Limits on applications and acceptances by specialty

Some specialties have recommendations for the max number of program applications an applicant sends, or the number of interview acceptances. In 2020-2021, Emergency Medicine capped the number of interview acceptances to 17. This year, Ophthalmology capped the number of interview acceptances to 18. Psychiatry recommends that applicants don’t accept more than 15 interview acceptances. 

Signalling requirements

Some specialties have required signalling for applications. Signalling is a way to let a residency program know that you are very interested in their program. There is a limited number of signals an applicant can give. Otolaryngology used signaling (limit of 5) in their 2020-2021 and showed applicants were more likely to get interview invites in the programs that they signal compared to the programs they did not signal. This year, Dermatology will use signaling (limit of 3), and Internal Medicine and General Surgery will use signaling (limit of 5).

Specialty-specific quirks

There are some unique resident applications quirks based on the specialty. Plastic Surgery and Ophthalmology have an early interview and match system, taken care of by the San Francisco Match System. Dermatology, Internal Medicine, and General Surgery will have a supplemental ERAS application

Looking ahead to the 2021-2022 MATCH

Medical students awaiting the 2021-2022 MATCH may be apprehensive after watching last year as expectations and options for the MATCH changed in real time response to the global pandemic. We hope these pointers help ease the MATCH anxiety as much as possible! Remember you can always find the latest updates on the NRMP website here

Keep an eye out for future Medical Education Team updates and follow our work here