Hello prospective Emergency Physicians. Dr. Casey and I have created this note to help maneuver through some of the documents that the NRMP (National Residency Matching Program) put out, specifically in regards to matching in Emergency Medicine. Our hope is that this can answer some of your questions before we meet, so we can spend our time together answering questions pertinent to your specific situation. In this first post, we’ll look at the Results of the NRMP Program Directors Survey 2012.

The way I would interpret this data is to understand what program directors are thinking. You can adjust your approach accordingly. If they don’t value your personal statement so much, now you have permission not to obsess about it. Focus on what does matter.

What do program directors look at to grant interviews?

looking_for_in_interviewees_1looking_for_in_interviees_2The first two charts (you’ll have to click on them to see bigger versions) reflect what program directors think are important in deciding whether to grant an interview. By far the thing most PD’s (program directors) value are letters of recommendation from someone in Emergency Medicine. Also important are your clerkship grades, your EM grade (especially if that’s an honors) and an audition elective. It’s also important to note what’s not as highly valued: second languages, post-interview contact and membership in the Gold Society (hmm, what does that say about our humanism?).

What goes into ranking applicants?

factors_in_ranking_em_applicantsIn determining who to put at the top of their rank lists, an audition rotation at that institution has the greatest weight. Similarly, an away rotation at another institution is also prized. A second-visit after the interview, your personal statement, interest in an academic career and the Humanism society (man, we’re heartless) are at the bottom of the list.

How important are board scores?

step_one_scoresstep_two_scoresI don’t think it’s a surprise that board scores are important. All places require a Step I score and most require Step II. If you fail either of these tests on the first pass, a large number of these programs will not consider you (or only rarely do so). The other way to spin this is that there are a few programs that will.

What board score do I need?

step_scores_and_interviewsThese next two charts show two important pieces of data. At what score will I not get an interview and at what score am I almost guaranteed an interview. The box plots represent interquartile ranges, meaning the top line is the 75th percentile and the bottom line is the 25th percentile. So for Step I, with a score of around 200, seventy-five percent of the program may not consider you for an interview. If you rock a 250 on Step II, 75% of programs would very likely give you an interview.

How many interviews do they grant?

applicants_interviewedOn average, a program will get 719 applicants, interview 132 of them, rank 117 and match only 11. This corresponds to 39% of applicants being rejected for an interview and 57% being granted an interview.

So take this for what it’s worth. It’s at least a starting point for discussion. Feel free to ask any questions or contact me or Dr. Casey. Here’s a PDF of these charts if you’d like.

Comments (1)

  1. Casey


    This serves as an excellent introduction for those considering applying for emergency medicine residencies. Having served (and currently serving) on EM interview committees I can vouch for the accuracy of the above information. The ‘audition rotation’ at programs in which you are interested in especially important not only as it allows you to demonstrate your work ethic and EM intelligence but it also puts a face to the application for the interview committee. Use the numerous resources available (for instance EMRA match – http://www.emra.org/match) to find programs that look like a good fit for you and be sure to contact the program EARLY to arrange an away rotation as they fill up quickly. It’s a stressful, odd matching process but have confidence in the end you will find your perfect match!

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