Background: The number of residency applications submitted by medical students rises annually, resulting in increased work and costs for residency programs and applicants, particularly in emergency medicine. We propose a solution to this problem: an optional, two-stage Match with a “summer match” stage, in which applicants can submit a limited number of applications early. This would be conducted similarly to the early decision process for college admissions. The study objectives were to explore stakeholder opinions on the feasibility of a summer match and to identify the ideal logistic parameters to operationalize this proposal. Methods: We used exploratory qualitative methodology following a constructivist paradigm to develop an understanding of the potential impact of a summer match. We interviewed 34 key stakeholders in the U.S. residency application process identified through purposive sampling including educational administrators (program directors, designated institutional officials, medical school deans) and trainees (students, residents). We coded and thematically analyzed interview data in two stages using an inductive approach. Results: We identified six themes from the participant interviews that broadly reflected issues of the residency application process, value, and equity. These themes included disrupting the status quo, logistic concerns, match strategy, differential benefits, unintended consequences, and return on investment. Most study participants supported the summer match concept, with medical students and residents most in favor. We developed a theoretical summer match protocol based on these findings. Conclusions: A summer match may reduce the burdens of increasing residency applications and associated costs. Pilot testing is necessary to confirm this hypothesis and determine the impact of the proposed summer match protocol. Unintended consequences must be considered carefully during implementation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine