Match Day is the thrilling culmination of years of dedication and hard work for medical students, marking the exact moment they discover where their journey as doctors will truly begin. This day is more than a ceremony; it’s the turning point where dreams and careers align, revealing where each student will head for residency training.

Understanding the importance of residency training is imperative for medical students as it is a step each doctor must complete. If you’re wondering what the matching day is in medical school, then we have the answers! Read this blog for insights into the matching process and start preparing for this pivotal step in your academic journey. 

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What Is the Match?

The Match is a system that pairs medical students with residency programs nationwide. It uses a computer algorithm to efficiently and fairly align students’ preferences with residency programs’ needs. This process ensures that students are placed into programs that fit their career goals and that hospitals receive new residents best suited to their environments. As such, it plays a crucial role in maintaining a balanced and effective medical education system where the slots available among residencies meet the students’ preferences.

The Match Process Explained


The process of matching students with medical residencies is elaborate and divided into three stages. After the application process, qualified students then move into the interview stage and finally go through the ranking procedure to ensure their career aspirations match the residency.

Application Process

The residency application process is a structured journey that involves several key steps:

  • Gather Documents: Collect important documents like your medical school transcript, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) scores.
  • Complete Application: Fill out your application, including your work experience, volunteer activities, and other qualifications. This is done through the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service), where you compile all your information.
  • Submit Materials: Upload and submit your compiled documents and application through ERAS to the residency programs you’ve chosen based on your career interests and goals.

This concludes the first step in your matching journey. 

Interview Sessions

The journey continues with the interview sessions, during which you visit various residency programs to determine your fit and preferences. This phase is essential for finding the best match between medical students and residency programs. Students attend interviews to showcase their skills, learn about each program’s culture, structure, and opportunities, and determine where they feel they would thrive. Programs also assess the suitability of candidates for their environment. This mutual evaluation helps both students and programs rank each other based on preferences and impressions, which are crucial for the Match process.


After interviewing with various residency programs, medical students rank them based on their experiences and career goals. This ranking process involves students evaluating each program’s atmosphere, training quality, location, and how well it aligns with their professional aspirations. Students list their preferred programs in order, from most to least desired, on the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) system. Programs similarly rank the students they interviewed. The Match then uses these ranked lists to place students into residency programs, aiming to align each student’s preferences with the best available program that also showed interest in them.

The NRMP Match System

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is vital to the matching process. As the organization that oversees the Match, NRMP collects rank lists from both students and residency programs, where each side lists their preferences in order. Using a computer algorithm, the NRMP processes these lists to match students with programs based on mutual preferences. This system ensures a fair and efficient placement process, helping to align the career goals of students with the educational needs of residency programs. 

Overview of the Match Week

With the matching day approaching, medical students officially enter Match Week. This is an exciting time for students as they anxiously wait for the results of their residency placement. During this week, they receive notifications if they’ve matched and where they might spend the next phase of their training. Anticipation and nerves build as they prepare for the big reveal on Match Day, a career-defining moment. This period is filled with hope and excitement as students are on the verge of discovering where their medical careers will take them next.

Match Day Ceremony

Finally, there is Match Day, a memorable and joyous ceremony where medical students gather with peers, family, and friends to find out their residency placements. At this event, each student receives an envelope containing the name of the program where they will train for the next few years. 

The atmosphere is filled with excitement and anticipation as everyone counts down to the moment when they can open their envelopes together, much like a graduation. Cheers, tears, and hugs follow as students celebrate achieving a significant milestone in their medical careers. It’s a day of relief, happiness, and shared dreams becoming reality, marking the start of new professional journeys.

What Happens if You Don’t Match to a Residency Program?

Some residencies can be competitive due to a limited number of options available. Amidst the number of students cheering after they finally find their match, some may not. But it doesn’t end there.

When medical students do not match to a residency program on Match Day, they still have several options to consider. One primary pathway is the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). Through SOAP, students can apply for unfilled residency positions immediately after Match Day. They receive a list of available spots and have a few days to submit applications and interview with programs still seeking residents.

If students do not secure a position through SOAP, they can focus on strengthening their application for the next Match cycle. This might include gaining more clinical experience, improving their interview skills, or clarifying their career goals. Some may also explore research fellowships, additional coursework, or other medical-related work to enhance their profiles.

It’s a time for reflection and targeted action to improve their chances in future residency matches. This period can be challenging but also a valuable opportunity for growth and learning.

A Successful Match Day Starts at AUA

We at AUA might know a thing or two about residency placements. Just in 2024, AUA graduates matched to more than 169 programs across 34 states and Canada on their first try, landing a spot at top hospitals in areas like internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics. By offering rigorous academic programs, comprehensive clinical training, and strong faculty guidance, AUA ensures you have all the tools you need for success. 

AUA’s curriculum is designed to prepare students for real-world medical challenges, enhancing their knowledge and skills. The clinical training provides hands-on experience in various healthcare settings, ensuring students are well-prepared for their medical careers. Additionally, AUA’s faculty are committed to mentoring students, offering personalized advice and support to help them navigate their medical education and achieve their professional goals.

So, consider AUA for its supportive environment and excellent career opportunities in medicine.  You will benefit from dedicated faculty, hands-on training, and a curriculum that prepares you for a successful medical career.


Matching is crucial for medical students, determining their future path as they train to start their medical careers. Match Day marks the milestone, filled with emotions and excitement, as students celebrate their hard work and the beginning of a new chapter. For these new doctors, residency is a chance to learn more, get better at what they do, and really start to make a difference in patients’ lives. 

Fill out AUA’s application today and become part of a community where securing a match is made easy. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How many residency programs should I apply to?

To maximize your chances, you should apply to 15-35 residency programs, depending on your specialty’s competitiveness and qualifications.

Are there any restrictions on applying to international residency programs?

There are no restrictions on applying to international residency programs. Still, you must meet each country’s specific eligibility and licensure requirements.

Can I apply to both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) residency programs?

Yes, you can apply to both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) residency programs, as many are now unified under the single accreditation system through ACGME.

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