Introduction: Applicants to residency face a number of difficult questions during the interview process, one of which is when a program asks for a commitment to rank the program highly. The regulations governing the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) match explicitly forbid any residency programs asking for a commitment.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of applicants from U.S. medical schools to five specialties during the 2006-2007 interview season using the Electronic Residency Application Service of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Applicants were asked to recall being asked to provide any sort of commitment (verbal or otherwise) to rank a program highly. Surveys were sent after rank lists were submitted, but before match day. We analyzed data using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
Results: There were 7,028 unique responses out of 11,983 surveys sent for a response rate of 58.6%. Of those who identified their specialty (emergency medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology [OBGYN], general surgery and orthopedics), there were 6,303 unique responders. Overall 19.6% (1380/7028) of all respondents were asked to commit to a program. Orthopedics had the highest overall prevalence at 28.9% (372/474), followed by OBGYN (23.7%; 180/759), general surgery (21.7%; 190/876), internal medicine (18.3%; 601/3278), and finally, emergency medicine (15.4%; 141/916). Of those responding, 38.4% stated such questions made them less likely to rank the program.
Conclusion: Applicants to residencies are being asked questions expressly forbidden by the NRMP. Among the five specialties surveyed, orthopedics and OBGYN had the highest incidence of this violation. Asking for a commitment makes applicants less likely to rank a program highly. [West J Emerg Med. 2015;16(2):331-335.]