Sunday 6 January 2013

Match Violations and Communications between Programs and Applicants

The interview season is drawing to a close. Some of you may have had good experiences on the interview trail and now are in process of finishing up the final few interviews. Some are privileged to have multiple programs on their rank order list and want to ensure that they match to a program of their choice. Many applicants express a desire to let the programs know how they are going to be ranking them and there needs to be a little bit of a caution while doing that. According to the NRMP match participation agreement: Both applicants and programs may express their interest in each other; however, they shall not solicit verbal or written statements implying a commitment.   

In the section on integrity of the NRMP match, there are examples, which go on to explain the nature of this violation.
Example 1:
A program director "guarantees" an applicant that he/she will rank the applicant within the program's quota, but only if the applicant will rank the program first on his/her rank order list.
Example 2:
An applicant "guarantees" a program director that he/she will rank the program first on their rank order list, but only if the program director will rank the applicant within the program's quota.

Simply put, neither parties (applicant or program) can make a committal statement guaranteeing they will rank the other with in the rank order list.

In general, it is better to refrain from making decisive statements that you will rank them number 1 etc and worse still communicating this to multiple programs, as this is inherently dishonest and does not do an applicant any good. Also do not disclose your ROL to programs, they dont need to know and it is certainly a violation of match rules if they solicit this information from you. It is your right to keep the rank order list confidential. 

You can certainly express interest in program - check out a sample letter detailing the wording in this regard. Let your program of significance know that you are exceedingly interested in the program (for any number or kind of reasons – family, teaching, personal factors, geographic location etc) and look forward to working there, should you match. Keep in mind, expressing an interest is okay. That’s what the interview is for - you go and check out the place and if you like what you see and experience, go ahead and let them know, but soliciting verbal or written statements implying commitment defeats the purpose of the match, is unfair to everyone involved and therefore a violation of the rules.

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