As if applying for residency positions isn’t stressful enough, applicants who enter the Match as a couple face an additional set of challenges.
Navigating this process is certainly feasible, but it will require ample preparation, organization, and open communication with your partner.
The National Residency Matching Program (1) has a system that allows couples to link their primary rank order lists with one another. These pairs of programs are then considered in order, and the couples will match to the most preferred pair of programs where each partner receives an offer. This process allows partners to mix and match specialties, institutions, and geographic locations – and avoids confusion and awkwardness if one partner didn’t match.
How do we begin?
1) Apply to more residency positions than you would as an individual. Depending on the competitiveness of your specialty and desired programs, this could mean sending out applications to upwards of 25 institutions. To ultimately match in the same location as a couple, both you and your partner must a) be invited for an interview, b) like the program and location, and c) be ranked highly by your program of interest. Sending out more applications will maximize your chances of ending up in the same place.
2) Consider positions in larger cities with more medical institutions. This gives couples the opportunity to apply for multiple combinations of programs in the same city.
3) When scheduling your interviews, inform the institutions that you are applying as a couple. This has a few benefits:
- a. Some institutions will contact the partner’s corresponding department and encourage them to invite him or her for an interview.
b. If both applicants are invited for an interview, their respective departments might work together to line up your interview dates, allowing you to travel together.
c. After making their rank order lists, programs might communicate with one another to move one partner higher up on the list, increasing the likelihood that they will both match in the same place.
4) Compromise. In order for both partners to match with desirable residencies in the specialty of their choice, and in the same location, compromise is inevitable. Be honest about your preferences and consider the needs of both you and your partner. Couples have the option for one partner to go unmatched if the other partner matches to a particular program.
(1) National Residency Matching Program: Couples