• The Match: Getting into a Residency Program

    Whether it's months or years away, your own Match Day is something you probably think about often as a medical student.

    The Basics: What is the Match?

    The Match process is a uniform system by which residency candidates and residency programs simultaneously “match” to fill first-year and second-year post-graduate training positions accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The National Resident Matching Program®(NRMP®) instituted and maintains the Match system.

    Unless they have specifically enrolled in the Military Match, which occurs in December, all graduating medical students and medical school graduates seeking a residency position should enroll in the Match. 

    How Do I Match into a Residency Program?

    Matching can be broken down into six major steps. Each applicant’s Match task list will include a number of plans and assignments within these six categories.

    Steps to match:
    • Step 1. Build professional and academic experience.
    • Step 2. Research residency programs in your chosen medical specialty.
    • Step 3. Apply to residency programs.
    • Step 4. Interview with residency programs.
    • Step 5. Rank residency programs.
    • Step 6. Learn where you matched on Match Day, which occurs every third Friday in March.

    Watch the video Family Medicine Match Stories to hear from students who matched during the 2021 virtual Match cycle. Get ideas for standing out when it comes time for your match.

    Applicants sometimes go through an additional step on the path to matching: entering the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program. Through this program, the week before Match day, applicants who did not match and residency programs that did not fill all of their positions have the opportunity to connect and receive and make offers. 

    Find Your Match with the AAFP

    Ready to begin your journey to residency? The Match may be a complex process, but making it work for you doesn't have to be. The AAFP has articles, tools, videos, and events to support Match applicants every step of the way.

    Free Comprehensive Match Guidebook: Strolling Through the Match

    For decades, this guide to matching has helped thousands of applicants find their way into the right family medicine residency program. Strolling Through the Match is updated each year with the most current guidance and data. Start reading it from day one of medical school for advice on building your CV and consult it as you get ready to start researching residency programs.

    Download a digital version or order a free printed copy of the guidebook here.


    Residency Faculty and Staff

    If you're residency faculty or staff looking for Match information and tools for your program, we've got you covered. Visit the AAFP's Residency Program Central.