to couples matching

The most exciting and nerve-wracking time of your med student career is match season, and that’s even more so when you decide to enter the match as a couple! There is so much to know about matching as a couple. We will try to provide a comprehensive and precise guide but reach out to us if you have any questions after reading this blog!

What is couples match and how does it work?

  • You can couples match with anyone (your friend, your fiancé, your sister, etc.)
    • Don’t need any formal documentation of a relationship
  • You can go to two different schools and still couples match
    • Just have to be matching at the same time, you cannot couples match with someone from a previous match or future match
  • Couples match gives you the ability to match in the same geographic location or same hospital (but it is possible to rank options together and apart)
  • You can “uncouple” at any time during the season up to the day you submit your ROL
  • Couples have great success in the match: 95.6% match rate in 2020

Decisions to make as a couple beforehand:

  • Am I ok with matching in different states/locations?
    • If no, then you should only rank matches in the same location
    • If yes, then you can start your rank list with matches in the same location and end your list with different locations
  • Am I ok with one of us getting a job and the other having to reapply?
    • If yes, then at the end of your rank list you can rank “match-no match” ranks which means one person gets a job and the other goes unmatched
  • Am I ok with having a backup specialty to increase my chances of being with my significant other?
    • Consider the answers to the above and if it’s more important to be together than to match your specialty of choice, especially if its competitive, then consider a parallel plan
  • Should we consider advanced programs or just categorical?
    • If you consider advanced programs, there is a possibility of being separated for PGY-1 year as your partner in the advance program may do their TY/prelim year in a different location. However, its all up to how you choose to rank

How do I decide what programs to apply to as a couple?

  • Apply broadly, but be smart ($26 per program)
  • Don’t rank any/many programs with 0% IMGs (residency explorer or FRIDA)
  • Don’t/do apply to locations that don’t have both specialties (unless you are ok with ranking some pairs that are in different locations, personal choice)
  • Use this website to search multiple specialties and find programs in the same geographical location

Get organized before the season starts:

  • We used residency explorer to make an Excel chart of all of the anesthesia and pediatrics programs that were in the same locations
  • We then color coded them: 0% IMGs red, 1-10% IMGs yellow, and >10% IMGs green
  • Any with 0% IMGs we mostly eliminated, but kept a few if they were in our home towns just to shoot our shot (in the end of the day we got 0 interviews from these and no response back to our emails stating our interest)
  • 1-10% (yellow) we actually had a fair amount of response from, so do not count these out

How do you put on your application that you are couples matching?

  • Under your personal information section you’ll find this box:

  • This is where you designate that you are a couple, then the rest of the application is the same as someone who isn’t couples matching
  • Side note if your partner is applying to prelim and TY years in addition to advance programs, do not list that, just list the main specialty: this was a big source of confusion at the beginning of our interview season

Interview season:

  • As soon as you get an interview invite, schedule it right away
  • As soon as one person gets an interview, both of you should email or call the PD and CC the PC right away!
  • 2-3 weeks after applications open start emailing programs about your interest and your intention to couples match and why you are interested in that program specifically (any programs you haven’t heard back from yet)
  • Complication: programs that are NOT at the same hospital
    • Lets say your partner gets an interview at a hospital in the same city as the hospital you applied but its not the same hospital, most likely the programs will not reach out to each other on your behalf
    • However, you should still email the program for the person who did not receive the interview and write the same type of email saying your partner got an interview at X program nearby and you would love to coordinate interviews. See email example below!
    • Start networking in your third year, every person you meet is a person who can help you reach your ultimate goal

Example letter when one person got an interview and another did not:

“I would first like to thank you for extending me an interview at residency program. I am extremely excited to interview and learn even more about what the hospital and program have to offer.

I have selected an interview on Monday December 1st and I cannot wait!

In addition, I would like to inquire about the possible coordination of interviews for my husband, JOHN DOE (AAMC ID: 12345678), with whom I am couples matching. He has applied to the specialty program at residency program and has not yet received an interview. If it is possible to assist us in coordinating interviews we would be most excited!

CITY is a perfect location for my husband and I, right in between CITY A where I am from and CITY B where my husband is from. After being in DOWNTOWN for the past two years, we are eager to be close to family again!

Again, I would like to thank you for this interview opportunity! I look forward to meeting you, the residents, and the faculty in December.”

  • Add in important information about why you like this program, pick specifics like location and certain aspects of the program that appeal to you

During interview:

  • Bring up your partner (my wife and I volunteered at XYZ, etc.) whenever it comes up naturally in conversation
  • Mention if your partner hasn’t received an interview yet (often they will say oh we will reach out or something along those lines)

After Interviews:

  • Once your partner has an interview at a place you already interviewed at, you can update the program you interviewed at about this
    • We sent emails saying something like “my wife had her interview with PROGRAM and enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you for helping us coordinate interviews we are excited about the opportunity to become residents at PROGRAM”
  • When you are ready to let programs know about LOI, remind them that you and your partner are both excited, ranking #1, whatever is relevant
  • Rank order list (watch the YouTube videos below), might not rank some programs you interviewed at, deciding if you would do match-match or match-no match options, will all your ranks be in same location or will you do some ranks where you match in different locations?


A Couple Extra Tips:

We hope this guide helps you on your journey to the couples match. Reach out to us below or on Instagram if you have any questions!

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