How Do I Avoid Engaging In A Match Violation?
Participants can avoid engaging in a Match violation by observing practices that respect the right of programs and applicants to determine their selections in the absence of unwarranted pressure and by adhering to the highest ethical principles in all interactions with other Match participants. The right of applicants to freely investigate program options prior to submission of their final rank order lists must be respected. The specific rights and responsibilities of Match participants are set forth in the Match Participation Agreement to which each participant affixes an electronic signature during registration and which is a binding commitment to conduct all affairs related to a Match consistent with the Agreement.
The requirements of the Match Participation Agreement, including the Policies and Procedures for Waiver Requests and the Policies and Procedures for Reporting, Investigation, and Disposition of Violations of NRMP Agreements, are available at http://www.nrmp.org under Main Residency Match and Specialties Matching Service.
An Applicant Match History is available in the Registration, Ranking, and Results (R3) system and shall be used by program directors and NRMP institutional officials to determine whether an applicant has a binding concurrent-year Match commitment to another program. The Applicant Match History also can be used to determine if an applicant has requested a waiver of a Match commitment and/or been involved in an NRMP violation investigation. The Applicant Match History is available throughout the year so that programs can determine an applicant’s eligibility for appointment prior to offering the applicant an interview.
An Institution and Program Violations Report also is available in the R3 system, allowing applicants and medical school officials to determine whether an institution or program has been involved in an NRMP violation investigation.
Most Commonly Reported Violations
The violations most commonly reported to the NRMP are:
- After a Match, an applicant who obtained a position does not accept the position. The Match Participation Agreement states that the listing of a program on the applicant’s certified rank order list and the listing of an applicant on a program’s rank order list establishes a binding commitment to accept/offer an appointment if a match results and to start training in good faith on the date specified in the appointment contract. The same binding commitment is established when positions are obtained through the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance ProgramSM (SOAPSM). Failure to honor that commitment is a breach of the Agreement.
- A director of a program that participates in the NRMP Main Residency Match offers a written or verbal contract outside of The Match to a senior from a U.S. allopathic medical school. The Match Participation Agreement requires all programs at Match-participating institutions, regardless of the program’s Match participation status, to select US seniors from allopathic medical schools only through the Main Residency Match.
- A director of a program that participates in the Main Residency Match offers a position outside The Match. The Match Participation Agreement requires programs participating in the Main Residency Match to register and attempt to fill all positions through The Match or another national matching plan.
- A program director asks for verbal or written confirmation from an applicant about how the applicant intends to rank the program. Although the Match Participation Agreement does not prohibit either an applicant or a program from volunteering how one plans to rank the other, it is a violation of the Match Participation Agreement for either party to request such information or for a program director to require applicants to identify those programs to which they have or may apply.
- An applicant with a binding commitment applies for, discusses, interviews for, or accepts a position in another program prior to receiving a waiver from the NRMP. Similarly, a program director discusses, interviews for, or offers a position to an applicant prior to receiving a waiver from the NRMP. The Match Participation Agreement prohibits applicants and programs from releasing each other from a Match commitment. Once parties have matched or a position has been accepted during SOAP, a waiver of the binding commitment may be obtained only from the NRMP.
- A program director discusses, interviews for, or offers a position to an applicant who has a concurrent-year position in another program. The Match Participation Agreement prohibits programs from discussing, interviewing for, or offering a position to an applicant who has a concurrent year position in another program and who has not been granted a waiver by the NRMP.
- A medical school official from an allopathic school withdraws a US senior who wishes to accept a position outside The Match. U.S. allopathic seniors may be withdrawn only for specific reasons, which are listed on the My Students and Graduates screen accessible by medical school officials through the Match Site at www.nrmp.org
- An unmatched applicant contacts programs about unfilled positions prior to 2:00 eastern time on Monday of Match Week. It is a breach of the Match Participation Agreement for unmatched applicants to contact programs about unfilled positions prior to 2:00 eastern time on Monday of Match Week when ERAS begins sending applications as part of the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). Eligible unmatched applicants shall initiate contact only through ERAS, and other individuals or entities are prohibited from initiating contact on behalf of any unmatched applicant prior to contact from directors of unfilled programs. In addition, it is breach of the Match Participation Agreement for matched applicants and programs to contact each other about Match results prior to the general announcement of the Main Residency Match results at 1:00 PM eastern time on Friday of Match Week.
- A director of a program that does not participate in the Main Residency Match offers a position to a senior student in a US allopathic medical school. The Match Participation Agreement states that if any of an institution’s programs participates in the Main Residency Match, all of its programs, regardless of the program’s Match participation status, must offer positions to US allopathic seniors only through the Main Residency Match or another national matching program. Institutions may be investigated for a breach of any of its obligations under the terms of the Match Participation Agreement.
Each year, the NRMP is contacted by applicants who believe that an error has occurred in a Match because they did not match to programs whose directors had promised them positions (i.e., had promised to rank them high enough to ensure a match). In every case, the NRMP has determined that the applicant did not match to the desired program because, contrary to the applicant’s expectation, the program did not rank the applicant high enough on the program’s rank order list for the applicant to match there.
The Match Participation Agreement permits program directors and applicants to express interest in each other but prohibits the solicitation of statements implying a commitment. However, some applicants may misinterpret statements of encouragement to signify a commitment on the part of the program and some programs may make misleading statements.
Statements such as the following have been made by program directors to applicants who later did not match to those programs:
- “We plan to rank you very high on our list.”
- “We hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the coming year.”
Such statements are not binding and frequently are misinterpreted, and applicants should not rely on them when creating their rank order lists.
Program directors, institutional officials, and medical school officials should avoid making misleading statements and at all times display a professional code of behavior in their interactions with applicants.
NOTE: The foregoing examples are illustrative only. They are not meant to be an exhaustive list of the types of activities that violate the NRMP’s Match Participation Agreement. To review the terms and conditions of the Match Participation Agreement, please go to the NRMP’s web site at http://www.nrmp.org/