National Matching Services


Participating as a Couple

2018 ORMatch


About Participating as a Couple

Two applicants who are registered for the Match and who wish to coordinate their matches (e.g., obtain positions in the same geographic location) may participate in the Match as a "couple". Applicants who participate in the Match as a couple link their choices together to form "pairs" of program choices. The paired program choices are used in rank order sequence in the Match, and the couple is matched to the most preferred pair of programs to which both partners can match.

Identify Your Partner

Each member of a couple must register separately to participate in the Match. Once you have registered, you identify your partner using the NMS Match System.

  • Log in to the NMS Match System
  • Select Edit from the Couple Status section of the Dashboard
  • Enter your Partner's Match Code Number
  • Press Submit to Confirm Your Partner

Your Couple Status will be Pending until your partner identifies you as their partner in the NMS Match System. Once your partner has identified you as their partner, your Couple Status will change from Pending to Coupled.

If your partner withdraws from the Match, does not submit any ranks for the Match or does not correctly identify you as their partner, then your Rank Order List will be used in the Match as if you are an individual applicant.

Coordinate Your Rankings

Once you and your partner have identified the programs that you each want to rank, you need to create a list of possible paired choices that would be acceptable.

Each partner in the couple should enter their rankings separately into the NMS Match System; partners do not need to enter their lists at the same time. However, the rankings submitted by one partner must be carefully coordinated with the rankings submitted by the other partner, as described below.

Both you and your partner must submit the same number of ranks on your respective Rank Order Lists.

Program pairs are then formed based on the rank numbers of the ranked programs - i.e., the first choice program on your list is paired with the first choice on your partner's list, the second choice on your list is paired with the second choice on your partners list, and so on.

You may rank the same program multiple times on your Rank Order List in order to pair that program with more than one program on your partner's list. There is also an option to create pairs in which only one partner may be matched, with the other partner left unmatched (use the Add No Match Rank button to add a "No Match" entry with code 99999). Refer to the example shown below for the formation of Rank Order Lists for couples.

In order for both partners to be matched to a program pair, each of the partners individually must be able to match to the program that forms their part of that pair. By forming a program pair, the couple is saying that they only wish to match to that pair if both partners can be matched to the programs that form the pair; if only one partner can match to their program in that pair, then neither partner will be matched to that pair.

For an applicant who is participating as part of a couple, the probability of matching to a specific program pair depends not only on the applicant's ability to match to their program in that pair, but also on their partner's ability to match to the corresponding paired program. As a result, couples who do not include all possible pairs of programs on their Rank Order Lists may be decreasing the probability that they will be matched. However, if a couple ranks all possible combinations of programs, including those where the partners end up in different locations and those where one partner is left unmatched, then the probability that both partners will match somewhere is the same as if each applicant had participated in the Match as an individual applicant and not part of a couple.

Paired Choices Generator Tool

The Paired Choices Generator Tool can be used to help you and your partner generate a list of paired rankings. The tool will take the list of programs being considered by each partner and generate a list of all possible paired program choices (including choices where one partner is left unmatched). The program pairs can then be reorganized into the desired sequence, and unacceptable pairs can be eliminated if necessary. The use of this tool is not required, but some couples may find it helpful in creating their program pairs to enter on their Rank Order Lists.

Couples are encouraged to prepare a draft of their Rank Order Lists before entering their rankings into the NMS Match System.

Confirm Your Rankings

As noted above, each member of a couple must identify their partner in their Dashboard, and each partner must enter their side of the list of paired programs into the NMS Match System. After both members of a couple have correctly identified each other as their partner, each member of the couple can confirm the rankings submitted by their partner.

After you and your partner have entered your rankings into the NMS Match System, you should select the Printer-Friendly option on the Rankings page. The printer-friendly view will show the rankings entered into the NMS Match System by both you and your partner. This will allow you to confirm that both you and your partner have entered your rankings correctly, and that the program pairs that will be used in the Match (formed based on the rank numbers of the ranked programs) are correct.

Instructions and an Example

The example below provides a step by step illustration about how the matching process works for couples.


Step 1: Create Individual Lists of Acceptable Programs

Each partner should first prepare their own individual preference list of programs. In the following example, the letters refer to a specific program offered in that city.

Partner I Partner II

1) New York-A

2) Philadelphia-A

3) Chicago-A

4) Chicago-B

5) New York-D

1) New York-B

2) Philadelphia-B

3) New York-C

4) Chicago-A

5) Chicago-B

6) New York-D


Step 2: Assemble List of Acceptable Pairs

Next, both partners must decide together which pairs of programs they are prepared to rank. For example, they should first consider all the possible pairs where the programs are in the same general location. The couple should also consider forming pairs where the programs are not in the same location. In some cases, one rank in the pair may be designated "No Match" to indicate that one partner is willing to go unmatched if the other can get a position (use the Add No Match Rank button to add a "No Match" entry with code 99999).

Note that the list of pairs of programs below is not necessarily in the order that will eventually be submitted.

Pair Number Partner I Partner II

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

New York-A

New York-A

New York-A

New York-D

New York-D

New York-D

New York-A

No Match

Philadelphia-A

Philadelphia-A

No Match

Chicago-A

Chicago-A

Chicago-B

Chicago-B

New York-A

Philadelphia-A

New York-A

Chicago-A

New York-B

New York-C

New York-D

New York-B

New York-C

New York-D

No Match

New York-B

Philadelphia-B

No Match

Philadelphia-B

Chicago-A

Chicago-B

Chicago-A

Chicago-B

Philadelphia-B

New York-B

Chicago-A

New York-B

In this example, the first six pairs (1 to 6) represent all the possible combinations for the couple to both match in New York. The next two pairs (7 and 8) indicate that one partner is willing to go unmatched if the other partner matches to their first choice in New York. The next three pairs (9 to 11) represent all possible combinations for Philadelphia, including leaving one partner unmatched. The following four pairs (12 to 15) represent all possible combinations for the couple to both match in Chicago. The last four pairs (16 to 19) represent combinations of matches that the partners would be prepared to accept, even though the partners would not match in the same location.

Note that the 19 pairs shown above represent only some of the possible pairs that the couple could rank. A couple may choose to rank some or all possible combinations of their programs (including pairs with programs in different locations and pairs with one of the partners left unmatched).

Ranking more pairs will reduce the likelihood that the couple will remain unmatched. However, unacceptable pairs (i.e., the couple would rather remain unmatched than matched to that pair) should be omitted from the list.


Step 3: Order the List of Acceptable Pairs

Next both partners decide together on the order in which these pairs are preferred. The couple might have a final Rank Order List of paired programs that looks like the one shown below.

Each partner must then enter their side of the list independently into the NMS Match System.

Rank Number Partner I Partner II

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

New York-A*

Philadelphia-A*

New York-A*

Chicago-A*

Chicago-B

Chicago-A*

Chicago-B

New York-A*

New York-D

New York-D

New York-D

New York-A*

Philadelphia-A*

New York-A*

Chicago-A*

New York-A*

No Match (Program Code 99999)

Philadelphia-A*

No Match (Program Code 99999)

New York-B

Philadelphia-B*

New York-C

Chicago-A

Chicago-B*

Chicago-B*

Chicago-A

New York-D*

New York-B

New York-C

New York-D*

Philadelphia-B*

New York-B

Chicago-A

New York-B

No Match (Program Code 99999)

New York-B

18) No Match (Program Code 99999)

19) Philadelphia-B*


Result

The couple will match to the most preferred pair on their list where both partners can be matched (or where one partner can match and the other chooses to be unmatched).

To illustrate the result of the match in this example, an asterisk (*) has been placed in the list above after each of the programs to which each of the partners might have matched on their individual Rank Order Lists.

Partner I could match to New York-A, Philadelphia-A and Chicago-A; Partner II could match to Philadelphia-B, Chicago-B and New York-D. Based on these potential matches, this couple will be matched to their second choice pair (Partner I to Philadelphia-A and Partner II Philadelphia-B). As a further illustration, if one or both of the applicants could not have matched to the Philadelphia programs in the example above, then their match would have been with their 6th choice pair in Chicago.

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