Time and Financial Costs for Students Participating in the National Residency Matching Program (the Match©): 2015 to 2020


  • Kari M. Nilsen, Ph.D. KUSM-W
  • Anne Walling, MB ChB
  • Jill Grothusen, M.D.
  • Gretchen Irwin, M.D., MBA
  • Mark Meyer, M.D.
  • Greg Unruh, M.D. KUSM-KC




residency interviewing, NRMP Match, medical students, medical student advising


Introduction. The purpose of this study was to provide information to assist students, faculty, and staff in making critical career-determining decisions regarding the residency NRMP “Match©” process.

Methods. A 47-item survey questionnaire was developed and piloted on a regional medical school campus in 2015. The revised questionnaire was distributed each year from 2016 to 2020 to fourth-year medical students after rank lists had been submitted. The questionnaire incorporated a request for comments about the interviewing experience and suggestions to improve the process. This narrative feedback was coded using a thematic analysis.

Results. The overall response rate was 86.1% (897/1,042). Annual response rates ranged from 70.0% in 2020 to 97.0% in 2018. Respondents’ average age was 27.3 (± 2.7) years and 50.0% (448/897) were male. Most applied to family medicine (164/897; 18.2%) and internal medicine (140/897; 15.6%). Eight specialties had fewer than ten applicants over the six-year period. The number of students applying to individual specialties fluctuated annually, but no specialty showed a consistent upward or downward trend over the study period.

Conclusions. This study found huge differences in numbers of applications, expenses, and days interviewing. Students crave more guidance, a more efficient system, transparent communication with programs, and less pressure during the process. Reducing escalating volumes of applications is central to improving the system. Despite efforts to inform applicants better, student behavior is unlikely to change until they feel safe in the belief that lower and more realistic numbers of applications and interviews are likely to result in securing an appropriate residency position.


Metrics Loading ...






Original Research

How to Cite

Nilsen, K., Walling, A., Grothusen, J., Irwin, G., Meyer, M., & Unruh, G. (2021). Time and Financial Costs for Students Participating in the National Residency Matching Program (the Match©): 2015 to 2020. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 14(1), 53-63. https://doi.org/10.17161/kjm.vol1414568