Residency Directors Inconsistent When Interpreting Communication Rules with Candidates

Residency program directors have different interpretations of the National Resident Matching Program rules regarding post-interview contact with candidates and occasionally violate those rules, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

The study surveyed obstetrics-gynecology residency program directors across the United States. A majority of respondents, 76.6 percent, reported that their programs initiated contact with candidates post-interview at least some of the time. Fifty-one percent of respondents reported that highly desirable candidates might be contacted to inform them that they were ranked to match.

Additionally, 84 percent of respondents reported that candidates asked about their ranking status after their interview. The authors noted that many of the responding directors “believed that candidates and programs attempted to guess what the other was trying to communicate and that game playing was part of the routine.”

The findings led the study’s authors to worry that inconsistent application of the communication rules, which are intended to minimize pressure on residency candidates, may be causing unforeseen stress on applicants and directors.

According to the NRMP’s Match Participation Agreement (Section 6.0 Restrictions on Persuasion), “[b]oth applicants and programs may express their interest in each other; however, they shall not solicit verbal or written statements implying a commitment.”

The Match Participation Agreement for the 2013 Main Residency Match can be found here, on the NRMP website:

The study can be found here:

An article on the topic can be found here:

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