Overview of the Matching Program
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 states deny licensure to osteopathic physicians unless they have completed AOA-approved postdoctoral training.
To obtain an AOA-approved OGME-1 position in an osteopathic internship or residency, or an OGME-2 position in an osteopathic Dermatology or Preventive Medicine-Public Health residency, students must register for and participate in the AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program (the "Match").
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 web site section 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-approved 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 osteopathic 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. 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 22, 2016.
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 $60.00 U.S. 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, 2015.
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 22, 2016.
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, an approved 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 update their profiles to indicate they are part of a couple and identify their partner. 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. Additional information regarding the submission of Rank Order Lists by couples can be found here.
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.
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.
OGME-1 Requirements for Specialty Training
Each specialty has selected one of the following 3 options for the OGME-1 training of its students:
- Option 1: The OGME-1 year is an integral part of the residency, and is considered the first year of residency training. Students will match directly into the specialty residency program.
- Option 2: The OGME-1 year consists of a prerequisite preliminary year of training, providing a designated curriculum for the specialty, but no residency credit is given for the OGME-1 year. Option 2 specialty programs will make arrangements for the OGME-1 preliminary year for their students. In the Match, students will match to one program that incorporates both the specialty residency program and the prerequisite OGME-1 year. Thus, for purposes of the Match, there will be no practical difference between Option 1 and Option 2 specialties. Option 2 specialties are Diagnostic Radiology, Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and OMT, Ophthalmology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pathology and Radiation Oncology.
- Option 3: The specialty requires completion of a separate OGME-1 traditional rotating internship prior to beginning a residency program. Students interested in these specialties will first need to obtain a traditional rotating internship for OGME-1 training, prior to applying for specialty residency training. Option 3 specialties are Dermatology and Preventive Medicine-Public Health. Students interested in obtaining an OGME-2 position in either of these specialties through the Match must currently be in or have already completed OGME-1 training.
Program Types Offered in the Match
All programs offered in the Match provide training beginning in 2016 and meet the requirements of approved osteopathic training. However, the programs offered in the Match can be classified into three types:
- 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 2016. These positions will be of interest to students who subsequently wish to pursue an Option 3 specialty (Dermatology, Preventive Medicine-Public Health), who are undecided on future plans or 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 starting in OGME-1 between the student and the institution for training in a specialty. These programs combine both an OGME-1 position commencing in July 2016 followed by continued training in an OGME-2 residency position in the specialty in July 2017. (Note: The trainee must successfully complete OGME-1 training in order to continue into the OGME-2 position.) Both Option 1 and Option 2 specialty programs will be offered as OGME-1 residency programs in the Match.
For Option 1 specialties, each program will be represented by a unique Code Number in the Match, and students will match directly into a specialty residency program.
Option 2 specialties will arrange for the prerequisite OGME-1 year for their students prior to the Match, so that the OGME-1 preliminary year and the specialty residency training starting in OGME-2 will be combined and offered together, as a single program in the Match. The program will be represented by a single, unique Code Number in the Match, and will be ranked by the students as a single program in the Match. While in most cases the OGME-1 and subsequent specialty training will be in the same institution, this will not necessarily always be the case; a program could include an OGME-1 preliminary year at a different institution that is affiliated with the institution offering the specialty residency. In this case, the program will be listed in the Match under the institution that offers the specialty residency training, but the institution that provides the OGME-1 training will be identified in the description of the program.
- OGME-2 Residency: Dermatology and Preventive Medicine-Public Health are the only specialties that offer this type of program in the Match. These programs involve multi-year training that begins with OGME-2 training in 2016. Students must successfully complete separate OGME-1 training before beginning the Dermatology or Preventive Medicine-Public Health residency. Therefore, applicants attempting to match to a Dermatology or Preventive Medicine-Public Health position must have already completed, or be in the process of completing, their OGME-1 training when they rank these programs in the Match.
By the beginning of November, a list of the specific internship and residency programs offered by each institution participating in the Match will be available 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 22, 2016.
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 8, 2016. 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-approved 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 2016 AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program to a traditional rotating internship (OGME-1 only) will not be permitted to participate in the 2016 NRMP® Main Match for a PGY-1 position. Also, a student who is matched in the 2016 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 2016 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 and practice options. Some states deny licensure to osteopathic physicians who have not completed AOA-approved postdoctoral training. All AOA-approved residency training programs require satisfactory completion of OGME-1 training. Completion of AOA-approved postdoctoral training is also required to sit for osteopathic specialty certification board examinations.
PLEASE NOTE: Students who do not participate in the Match, and choose to take an allopathic (non-AOA-approved) postdoctoral year of training, are not assured of receiving AOA approval for this training. Only students who have received AOA approval for their training may receive credit for the training year.
As the medical profession moves increasingly to managed care and healthcare rationing, decisions students make now regarding their postdoctoral training will have great impact on their future credentials, potential for reimbursement and staff privileges.
If a student does not participate in the Match, but later desires to enter an AOA-approved internship or residency program, the student should consult the Match Results section on this web site or the AOA web site at www.osteopathic.org 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