Exclusive Residency Insights From the Head of the NRMP

Ryan Syrek, MA


December 07, 2018

Mona M. Signer, MPH, first joined the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) in 2002, became the executive director in 2005, and has served as the president and chief executive officer since 2015. Given the increasing number of applicants, and with Match Day 2019 fast approaching, we spoke with Signer to hear what advice and insights she had to share.

Medscape: Can you give me a brief "state of The Match," heading into next year?

Signer: Over the years, The Match has grown significantly. In 2018, over 44,000 applicants registered for the Main Residency Match, and we're expecting a similar number for the 2019 Match, which will include over 33,000 total positions. We hear a lot about competitiveness of The Match, but the fact is that, at least for US allopathic seniors in most specialties, more than 90% will match to their preferred specialty. There are some very competitive specialties, but by and large, most US allopathic medical school seniors will obtain a position. NRMP data show that, year in and year out, about 94% of US seniors match to a first-year position.

So has The Match gotten bigger? Yes. Has it gotten more competitive? I suppose, in the sense that there are more applicants in The Match, but that really hasn't changed the outcome for US seniors.

Medscape: What do you think the NRMP has done to evolve in order to meet the demand for positions and other challenges?

Signer: We have begun to publish much more data that are designed to help both applicants and programs maximize their success in The Match. You may have seen a publication on our website, called Charting Outcomes in The Match, which examines the characteristics of applicants who match to their preferred specialty.

We also biennially survey applicants and then, in the alternate years, we survey program directors asking about the characteristics that each of those groups looks at when creating a rank-order list. What are the applicant characteristics that are most important to a program director? What are the program characteristics that are most important to applicants? I would say that those data are really some of the most important changes that you will see.

We also have begun publishing research. For example, we've published articles in scholarly journals examining the characteristics of unmatched applicants. Why do they not match? Do they have characteristics in common? I recommend that applicants review our website and look at those publications so that they can think about whether they are suited for and likely to match to their specialty of choice.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.