Auditions, Step 2, the Match Oh My! A Timeline for 3rd and 4th year of Medical School

Ever since I made a broad timeline of medical school, people have requested a more detailed breakdown of what happens during the third and fourth year of medical school.  First, thanks for reaching out and letting me know what is useful for you!  And second, I completely understand! Trying to understand and remember all of the details of what needs to be done and when during third and fourth year can be a little overwhelming.  Let's see if we can make it a little less stressful!

Below is an outline of what to expect during third and fourth year.  I have tried to be as specific as possible but each student's timeline can vary depending on what their school requires, the speciality they are interested in, and what match they plan to participate in.  (Note:  I don't have the details on the USMLE Step 2 because my wife didn't take that so if your spouse did let me know and I will add it!)

But first lets make sense of the alphabet soup of acronyms:  
ERAS - Electronic Residency Application System 
NRMP - National Resident Matching Program aka the "Main Match".  Historically this match was made of MD residency programs but they are in the process of merging the two matches to create one big matching process.  Right now DO students can apply for either match but MD students can only apply for this match. 
NMS - National Matching Services or the AOA match.  This is the match for DO students who want to apply for a DO residency. 
ACGME - Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.  Historically ACGME residencies referred to MD residencies but with the merger of the match they will be the accrediting body for all medical residency programs.  
COMAT:  Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test or the exam every DO student takes after specific rotations during 3rd and 4th year (like internal medicine, family medicine, and surgery)

Because the acronyms for the matches are so similar I am going to refer to them as the AOA match and the ACGME match in the timeline below.

Disclaimer:  For this timeline I did not include exact dates because those change every year.  Please look up the specific dates for the year your spouse is going through this process.  

Third Year
July:  Core site orientation; Rotations start (after specific rotations the student will take a COMAT)
August:  Sign up COMLEX Level 2 PE* ($)
November - December:  Research residency programs; Work on CV and audition rotations applications
January:  Audition rotation applications open; Schedule COMLEX Level 2 CE ($)
February:  Continue to apply for and schedule audition rotations until full
Spring:  Schedule travel for COMLEX PE ($); Take COMLEX PE and CE
June:  ERAS application opens for students to start working on

Fourth Year
Summer/Fall:  Audition rotations (the number of auditions will depend on your student, their school's restrictions and the speciality they are interested in)
June:  Register for the AOA Match ($)
July:  Submit the ERAS for AOA residency programs** ($)
September:  Register for the ACGME Match ($); Submit ERAS for ACGME programs**($); Make sure all of the letters of recommendation are assigned to the residency programs
October:  Dean's Letter is submitted to ERAS
November:  Deadline to register for both matches
Fall/Winter:  Residency program interviews
Winter/Spring:  Finish school specific rotations
January:  Ranked residency list is due for AOA Match
February:  AOA Match; Rank list due for ACGME Match
March:  ACGME Match
May:  Graduation

* Some suggest that students take the PE after they have completed their internal medicine rotation(s)
** It was recommended to us to submit your ERAS application so it is available the first day programs can view them and then add the rest of the letters of recommendation as they are done
($) Denotes cost associated to keep in mind for your budget

A few questions I hear a lot:
Can a DO student just do either the AOA match or the ACGME match?  Yes a DO student can participate in the AOA or ACGME match.  The match they decide to go through is going to depend on what programs they auditions for, applied to through ERAS, and interviewed at.  You will want to do some research on the statistics of a DO student matching into the specific speciality your student is interested in to help inform your decision.

Can a DO student apply for both the AOA match and the AGCME match?  Yes but if the student matches into an AOA program they have to withdraw from the ACGME match.

How many audition rotations can a student do?  This largely depends on the student's school requirements/limitations.  Some schools limit the number of rotations a student can do in one speciality or some students may have required rotations scheduled during the typical audition rotation season.  Have your student check with their school for these.  Most people we know do 3-5 audition rotations, if their speciality encourages/requires them.

Additional Resources:
AOA Match

I hope this timeline was helpful!  Please let me know what questions you have or what topics you want to see covered next!

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