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



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.


A 47-item survey questionnaire was developed and piloted on a regional campus in 2015. The questionnaire also incorporated a request for comments about the interviewing experience and suggestions to improve the process. The questionnaire was distributed each year in late February to early March from 2016 to 2020, after rank lists had been submitted but before announcement of Match© results.


The overall response rate was 86.1% (897/1042). 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, but no specialty showed a consistent upward or downward trend over the study period.


This study indicates a huge difference 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 the escalating volume of applications is central to improving to system. Despite efforts to better inform applicants, student behavior is unlikely to change until they feel safe in the belief that lower, more realistic numbers of applications, and interviews are likely to result in securing an appropriate residency position.






Original Research