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The Military Match

Topic  Military Match Civilian Match More Information
Match Name Joint Service GME Selection Board (JSGMESB)  National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)  
Application Service Military GME website (Branch Specific) Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS)  
Applicants All USU
All HPSP students
No civilians
No USU
All HPSP students
All civilian students
In general, HPSP students should plan to apply to both matches. For orthopaedic surgery, the Navy trains approximately half of their orthopaedic surgeons at civilian institutions and the other half at Navy programs. In order to ensure you have maximized your chances of matching, you need to enter both matches. Similarly, the Air Force trains the majority of their orthopaedic residents at civilian institutions. The only military Air Force training location is San Antonio Military Medical Center. Again, to maximize your chances of matching, you should apply to both matches. Army orthopaedics is unique in that the majority of residents train at Army programs. However, there is typically one student per year group that will receive a civilian deferred or civilian sponsored position. While more stressful and more expensive, HPSP orthopaedic surgery applicants in the military should apply for both matches to maximize the opportunity to match and train. 
Application Requirements
  • Boards Scores (USMLE/COMLEX)
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Dean’s Letter/Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Boards Scores (USMLE/COMLEX)
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Dean’s Letter/Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Curriculum Vitae
In the military match, for competitive specialtiesA branch of medicine or surgery that a doctor specializes in. like orthopaedic surgery, there is a big emphasis on boards scores. USMLE Step 1 is the most important followed by Step 2. For the military match, it is not necessary to have Step 2 completed. However, if you have marginal Step 1 scores, it may benefit you to do well on Step 2 and submit prior to the review board meeting to demonstrate your ability to perform well on standardized testing. For DO students, it is strongly recommended to take USMLE in addition to COMLEX to be considered for orthopaedic surgery residency. There are no stringent requirements for letters of recommendation but generally would recommend one from the home institution program director and one from a military surgeon. Curriculum vitae is input manually into the military match website. Research publications or presentations can help set apart an application. 
Rank Order List Yes Yes In the civilian match, you will rank every program to which you applied. For a typical applicant, this can be anywhere from 30 to 60 programs. For the military match, you will rank all military programs as well as civilian options. If you are HPSP, there are two civilian options which incur different amount of active duty service obligations. Civilian Deferred means that you will complete residence in a civilian program. You will be placed on temporary inactive reserve status. Consequently you will not receive military pay but also will not have military obligations during this time. You do not accrue any additional ADSO. For example, if you have a 4-year HPSP scholarship and complete at 5 year civilian deferred residency, you would owe 4 years of active duty obligation after residency. Civilian Sponsored means that you are still on active duty while you are completing residency at a civilian program. You will remain on active duty. Consequently you will continue to receive military pay and will have occasional military obligations during this time. You WILL accrue additional ADSO. For example, if you have a 4-year HPSP scholarship and complete a 5 year civilian sponsored residency, you would owe 4 years from medical school plus 5 years from residency for a total of 9 years active duty obligation after residency.

If you are in the military match, you cannot definitively choose military versus civilian. However you can rank one over the other. When you submit your Rank Order List for the military match, you are able to list “Civilian Deferred” and/or “Civilian Sponsored” at spots number 1 or 2 and then list the military programs next. This will give you the best chance to match civilian. Alternatively, you may list all military programs first and the “Civilian Deferred” and/or “Civilian Sponsored” last. This will give you the best chance to match military. If you match civilian, you will then continue with civilian match as described by NRMP. 
Cost No application cost Military applying to NRMP:
Reimbursed for first 10 program applications
Civilian applying to NRMP:
pay for each program applications
The military match itself is completely free. This means there are no application fees. The NRMP match is not free, though the military will reimburse you for the first 10 programs you apply to. However, HPSP applicants should be applying to both and the typical number of programs applied to ranges from 30 to 60. Paying out of pocket for additional applications is well worth the added chance of matching into orthopaedics. 
Application Deadline ~October 15th November 30th   
Interviews Selection: All applicants
Type: In-person preferred, not required
Timeline: July to October 
Selection: Invitation only
Type: In-person required
Timeline: November to January 
Interviews are equally important in both military and civilian matches. Military interviews typically take place at the end of audition rotations. There are several interview days between July and October. If you are unable to rotate at a military program, it is highly encouraged to interview in person. Contact the program coordinator to arrange it.

Civilian interviews are offered on an invitation only basis. There are typically only one or two interview days for all applicants. Interview offers are released on a rolling basis through ERAS but are usually between November and January. 
Decision Process Computer algorithm + Committee Review  Only computer algorithm  The civilian match has the luxury of having large number of applicants and large number of training institutions. This lends itself to a completely automated computerized matching algorithm. In fact, the algorithm is so robust that it was recognized with the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

The military match has fewer applicants and fewer programs. Therefore, it is not prudent to rely solely on an algorithm. Instead the military match proceeds in a three stage process. First, the selection committee ranks all of the candidates. If the Army is able to train 30 residents between military and civilian spots, but 50 medical students have applied, they will take only the top 30 residents. Second, they will use a basic algorithm to best match students to programs. Finally, they will perform a common sense check to make sure there are no obvious errors. Occasionally, one or two residents may switch places. One example where this may take place is for dual military couples so that they do not match to programs across the country. 
Results Released ~December 15th  ~March 15th  The military match results are released in the middle of December. If a student matches military, they will be required to withdraw NRMP and alert their medical school. Students are notified by e-mail that their results have posted. They must then log on to the military GME website to see where they have matched.

Civilian match results are released in the middle of March on Match Day. Most medical schools have a ceremony or group celebration for match day. Often, matched military medical students will re-open their residency program on match day despite finding out 2.5 months prior. 
Possible Outcomes Match Military Training Facility
Match Civilian Sponsored
Match Civilian Deferred
Match Transitional Year
Match
Did Not Match 
As discussed in the Rank Order List section, possible outcomes of military match are military residency, civilian deferred, civilian sponsored and transitional year. Every military match student will match to a position. The unmatched equivalent is transition year. However, not every transitional year resident did not match into a desired specialty. Many residencies with preliminary years such as dermatology or ophthalmology will do a transitional year for intern year. Also, some students who have not decided on a specialty or who prefer to serve a general medical officer tour will elect for a transitional year. The possible results for civilian match are matched, or not matched. 
Unmatched Applicants Rebuttal Board  Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)  In the military match, if you do not get matched to your specialty of choice, you may submit a rebuttal. Every military applicant matches to a position, so medical students typically only apply to the rebuttal board if they do not match to the specialty of their choice. For example, if you match a transition year but wanted orthopaedic surgery, you may rebut. However, it is unlikely to obtain a spot in orthopaedics in this scenario. More common would be to switch to your second specialty of choice, such as emergency medicine or radiology, if spots remain for that application year. A second option is to complete your transitional year and re-apply the following year.

In the civilian match, unmatched applicant enter the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) which is a formal program for unmatched students. Please refer to the SOAP website for details. 
Couples Match No formal couples match  Yes, if both civilian  For dual military couples, the military will do their best to keep married couples together. However, there is no priority for girlfriends/boyfriends/fianc├ęs. For dual civilian couples, you may enter the NRMP Couples Match program. The dual civilian couple will submit a group rank list with each combination ranked. There is no marriage requirement for NRMP couples match, only that both parties desire to rank together.

For the mixed military-civilian couple, there is no option to couples match. However, the matches take place in a staged fashion. The military match results are available in December, well before NRMP rank order list are submitted. Therefore, military-civilian couples can approach the military match strategically. In addition to considering each person desired program, they also consider military residency locations and which have nearby civilian residency options. After the military match, the civilian candidate can then rank all nearby civilian rotations highly to maximize the changes of matching in the same city. 
Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.