School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

FAQs on Residency Match

1. When should I apply for residency?

You should apply for residency as soon as possible in the summer of Year 4. The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) opens on July 1 for students to begin entering their information.  When ERAS opens for programs to download applications on September 15, programs receive 100’s if not thousands of applications all at once. Programs immediately start to sort through the applications and begin the process of interviewing. Each program only has so many available interview positions and often they receive more highly qualified applicants than they can interview. The interviewing season can start as early as late October and ends in January so plan to take a month off to interview in November, December or January. For specific information, contact a faculty advisor in your desired specialty.

2. What are the 5 Matching Programs?

  • Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS): more than 95% of residencies use ERAS for application. See the ERAS website for more details.
  • Military Match: each military service as their own application and process. Application submission begins in September and is completed in November prior to the civilian match. A military applicant must participate unless a waiver is obtained from his/her commanding office. Find out more about the military match.
  • San Francisco Match: also called the Central Application Service is the application service for Ophthalmology. View more information.
  • Urology Match: For more information go to
  • CaRMS: Canadian Residency Match

3. What are the different types of residency positions?

  • Categorical positions begin in your PGY 1 and provide the training required for board certification in that specialty.
  • Preliminary positions are one or two year positions that being in a PGY 1 and provide prerequisite training for advanced programs. These positions are most often in internal medicine and general surgery.
  • Advanced positions begin in the PGY 2 year after one or more years of requisite training. Most students match into both a preliminary or transitional position and an advanced position at the same time.
  • Transitional year positions occurring during the PGY 1 year and allow resident to rotate in various specialties but lack the training required for board certification. A transitional year requires additional training in a specialty for board certification.

4. What is SOAP?

SOAP stands for Supplemental Offer and Assistance Program. You will only become familiar with this program if you do not match!

5. What should I do if I do not match? Am I eligible to participate in SOAP?
a. Report to the Student Affairs by 12:30 pm if you do not match
b. Eligible NRMP Applicants:

  • Must be able to enter a residency on July 1 in the year of the Match
  • Will be able to apply only to unfilled Match-participating programs during Match Week
       - Access to the List of Unfilled Programs
       - Must use ERAS and will be able to select ONLY unfilled Match participating programs
       - Cannot use phone, fax, email or other methods
       - Cannot have another individual/entity contact programs on the applicant’s behalf
       - Will be able to accept positions ONLY through SOAP during Match Week
  • Can apply to non-Match participating programs after Match Week.

c. Unfilled Programs:

  • Must accept applications only through ERAS during Match Week
       - Interview applicants over the phone
  • Must fill positions using SOAP during Match Week
        - Cannot offer position outside of SOAP to ineligible applicants
  • Can add applicants to bottom of preference list

Important Points

  • If an applicant rejects an offer or allows an offer to expire, no further offer will made to that applicant by the same program.
  • Once an applicant accept an offer, the applicant will not be able to send additional applications.
  • Once a program has filled all of it positions through SOAP, applicants will be unable to send applications to that program via ERAS.
  • Offers extended and accepted by applicants during Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) are legally binding.

Refer to the NRMP for more details.

6. What will I be asked in my interview?

The interview is an essential part of the process. It not only gives the program an opportunity to interview you but it also gives you the opportunity to interview the program. Consider how you “feel” throughout the day. Be prepared with questions you have for the program. Review their website and know their strengths and weaknesses. Be professional throughout the day. Expect to meet the program director, faculty and the residents. Be enthusiastic and show interest in their program. Be sure to keep notes after every interview. After 3 interviews it will all begin to blend together. Refer to these notes when you make your rank order list. For additional handouts click on this link. Questions you may be asked include:

a. Tell me about yourself.
b. Why did you become a doctor?
c. Why are you interested in our program?
d. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
e. Why do you feel you are well suited to this specialty?
f. Why did you choose this specialty?
g. Where do you see yourself in the future?
h. What is your most important accomplishment?
i. What has been your biggest failure?
j. What questions do you have for me? (so be prepared with some questions!)

7. What should I include in my personal statement?

good personal statement should focus on why you are choosing this specific specialty. It should not just repeat your CV. Be succinct but try to show your personality through your writing. DO NOT include overly personal information about you. A good personal statement does not’t promise you a successful match, but a bad one can ruin your chances of an interview. Click for CV Samples.

8. Who should I obtain my letters of recommendation from?

Start early and secure letters from the faculty who know you the best. You should ask for letters in person! Most programs require at least three letters of recommendation. You should include at least one letter from a faculty within the specialty you are applying. ERAS allows you to store an unlimited number of letters and designate different letters for different programs so you cannot obtain too many. No more than 4 letters can be sent to an individual program. Give a copy of your CV to your letter writer as well as instructions on how to submit the letter. Be clear about the deadlines. If you ask someone to provide a letter and they seem hesitant, don’t sweat. Move onto the next person. You should not solicit letters from residents, preclinical faculty and non-physicians. Give your letter writers at least 4 weeks notice. Consult a faculty advisor to obtain more advice about from whom your letters should be obtained. Some programs do require a letter from the Chair of the specialty you desire.

9. How many programs should I apply to?

The number of programs you should apply to depends on your credentials and the competitiveness of the specialty and residency program. You should apply to highly competitive, moderately competitive and safety programs. Use your faculty advisors for assistance. Apply to enough programs that you have options.

10. How many programs should I rank?

You need to rank enough programs to match. Basically, you should rank all programs that you interviewed at that you liked enough; it is not common for an applicant to attend more than 10 interviews. So, if you liked them all, include them on your list. Weaker applicants and couples should rank more programs. Consider the criteria which is important to you, such as location, national reputation, population diversity, opportunities for research, work environment, and institutional financial security. You should rank your top choice first. Finally, do not rank a program you would not be willing to attend.

11. What are some good questions I can ask at my interview?

a. What do you look for in a candidate?
b. How do your residents perform on boards
c. Do you anticipate any changes in the program?
d. What do residents like the most and lost about this program?
e. What are the research opportunities?
f.  What percentage of graduates enters fellowships?
g. When was your last accreditation visit? What were the results?
h. Do residents get protected time for educational days
i.  How are residents evaluated?
j.  What, in your opinion, are the strengths and weaknesses of this program?

Please refer to the Interviewing section of this website for more detailed information on preparing for residency interviews.

12. How can I apply for funds for the residency application process?

The Financial Aid Office has added an allowance for residency application and interview expenses to the M4 Cost of Attendance (the budget used in calculating financial aid awards).  This allowance appears on your Cost of Attendance in WSU Academica as “PLE – Professional License Expenses” in the amount of $2,000 for full time students.

The amount was established from a survey of the Class of 2013, as well as a separate survey of medical schools nationally. Like the other components in your budget, the Financial Aid Office is required to use a calculated average amount for all students.  

Based on this change, students may be eligible for an increase in their total financial aid award for the 2013-14 academic year.  If you wish to borrow additional loan funds (Unsubsidized or Grad PLUS), you must request an increase.

Unsubsidized Loan increases:

The maximum amount for an M4 student is $44,944 in the Federal Unsubsidized Loan program.  You may request an increase in Unsubsidized Loan funds if you have not already accepted this amount.  To request an increase, download and submit a Loan Revision Form:

Students must borrow their annual maximum in the Unsubsidized Loan Program prior to borrowing a Grad PLUS Loan.

Grad PLUS Loan increases:

If you have already borrowed $44,944 (or have reached the lifetime aggregate of $224,000 in combined Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans), you may request a Grad PLUS Loan increase.  To do so, submit a request on the Direct Loan web site at and click on the “Complete PLUS Request Process” menu option.