US Army Residency Match Blueprint

Navigating the US Army Match Process

Last updated 8/2020

So you want to be an EM physician? Welcome to the family! Being in the military will provide a lot of unique experiences, but comes with it’s unique challenges as well. The match process is completely different in the military as opposed to it’s civilian counterpart, and it can change by the year. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the yellow brick road that is the Army matching process

STEP 1: Choosing Your Program(s)

Choosing the programs that best fit you is the first step. Reach out to the clerkship coordinators to gain insight on each program and request to get connected with current residents. Take a look at our Residency Catalog for more information. When choosing programs to audition and interview with - cast a wide net!

  • Pro-tip: The published Annual HPSP Update is always a good place to start
  • Pro-tip: Interview at every program        
  • Pro-tip: The Army EM community is a tight-knit group!  It is highly suggested to rotate at each program and be straightforward and honest to the program director and during your interview.  The program directors and GME members talk to each other and will know about your experiences at each program.
  • Pro-tip: Apply as early as you can, even if it is the fall of your third year. Rather to be too early than too late and not get a shot at spending time at the institution of your choice.

STEP 2: Set Up Your Audition Rotation(s)

Once you decide where you want to audition, set up a block with the residency FIRST. To set up a rotation, please reference our residency catalog for more information on who to contact.  Deadline for ranking is MID-OCTOBER of your 4th year. Set up your rotations so they are completed by mid-October so you can get a good feel on the program that is optimal for you. When requesting an audition rotation, be sure to indicate if you are requesting an ADT or Non-ADT rotation.

  • Pro-tip: It’s better to be too early than too late.  Draft your schedule for years 3 and 4 by November and prep your audition requests by December of your 3rd year.  Pre-scheduling each block will help ensure you are fulfilling your institutional requirements.
  • Pro-tip: Schedule your interview while you are scheduling your audition.  Show interest and investment in the program and don’t leave it to the last minute.
  • Pro-tip: Some information online may be out-of-date.  Things change - be proactive in contacting different members of the GME office.  They will typically help you get to the right person. 
  • Pro-tip: Even the auditions spots are competitive for Army-EM!  Know when you need to apply and be prepared. Have a head-shot, CV, and mini personal statement prepared.
  • Pro-tip: For those students who are unable to complete 4 full EM rotations due to institutional limitations - still plan on rotating at all four hospitals.  The hospitals will work with you in finding an acceptable rotation (ie. EM Ultrasound) that will allow you to showcase your ability in the ED and fulfill your institutional requirements. 

STEP 3: Set Up Your ADT

Once the time block has been reserved and confirmed by the residency, then it is time to set up your ADT.

  1. During your initial request for the program make sure to include if you will be requesting the audition as an ADT.
  2. Once approved by the hospital and your school - email your student advisor (see below) and include site, rotation, and date. Include an ADT request form with your request. Remember the following rules when setting up your ADTs:
  3. ALWAYS REMEMBER: Things change in the Army. Your student advisor is your best point of contact for process like requesting ADT.  Use these wonderful people as a resource when you have questions.

Orders for your ADT are generally received 1-2 weeks in advance of the ADT start date. Call CWT immediately to schedule flights and rental car. The contact information for the office that will be dealing with your reservation can be found at https://www.cwtsatotravel.com/office-search.html.

  • Pro-tip: Finances are supplied on a refund basis.  Keep all receipts and ensure you have enough to cover the cost of the rotation (flights, hotel, car).  It may take 1-2 months or more to receive a refund.
  • Pro-tip: The army expects you to stay in a hotel.  AirB&B is not supported, so plan accordingly.
  • Pro-tip: Don’t wait to arrange accommodations on your non-ADT rotations.  Book early so you are not distracted and stressed leading up to your audition.  For information regarding housing refer to the residency catalog

STEP 4: Set Up an Interview with Your Desired Program(s)

Before you arrive for your audition rotation, You are responsible for confirming that an interview will be conducted while you are on site. Site-specific instructions to coordinate your interview will be included in the confirmation email you receive from each site. If you are not able to attend an in-person interview, there are options for an online interview.

STEP 5: Begin the Military Match Application Process

Start the application process in MODS as soon as possible. MODS, or the Medical Operation Data System, is the platform you will use to apply to each program. The best person to contact to gain access to MODS off-base is your local Army Healthcare recruiter.

  • The Army Medical Education Directorate publishes instructions for applying to the Match each year in July. These instructions can be accessed through MODS.
    • Pro-tip: Become familiar with the previous year’s requirements and get a head start on your application so you are not overwhelmed with the application process during your audition rotations.  You can find this information on MODS.
    • Pro-tip: Utilize your school’s career office for assistance in submitting your required documentation (SLOEs, Dean’s Letter, etc). Instructions for your career advisor can be found on MODS.

In rare cases, alternative residency options can be considered. In addition to pursuing an active duty residency at a military institution you can apply for a civilian deferred or a civilian sponsored program.

  • Civilian Deferred: civilian program is responsible for pay and education, during this time you are considered inactive.
  • Civilian Sponsored: civilian program is only responsible for education, military will sponsor your pay, however during the residency you will accrue additional active duty time that will be added to time accrued during medical school.

STEP 6: Begin the Civilian Match Process

This varies by year, but often HPSP students are required to apply to the civilian match through ERAS (https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-residency/applying-residencies-eras/). This is an example on how requirements can vary year-to-year. We recommend you review MODS and communicate with your student advisors and program coordinators to ensure nothing is missed. If civilian deferment is your top choice, you must also schedule an interview with your Specialty Leader.

  • Pro-tip: Plan ahead and expect to apply through ERAS.  Try to set up you interviews in December after you have completed the military match process.

Step 6.5: Have a backup plan

The fear of going into the process is that you won’t match, and your dreams won’t come true. Take a deep breath. Many excellent physicians need to take an alternative path back into the match process and end up in good programs. Military EM is a competitive field, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out the first time around. This is why it is important to always go into this process with backup plans. There are 2 different avenues if you don’t match into military or civilian the first time around:

  1. Transitional Year / Intern Year

Make sure that you are applying to civilian and military intern years, of which there are several different options (IM, surgery, or TY). IM and surgery years offer great opportunities; however, you will not have as much free time to navigate the match as you will with a TY. Transitional year programs are built for residents moving on to other programs. Time is built into your schedule to prepare for the match, audition, and pursue the residency of your choice.

  1. Military Rebuttal Board (Scramble)

Each year there are unfilled positions in certain specialties.  Refer to the Annual HPSP Update for information on which specialties have been available in the past few years. 

  • Pro-tip: Never guess - know the opportunity and consequences of each choice. Know what works best for you.  Talk to residents who have been through the process and get advice from faculty at each program.
  • Pro-tip: DO NOT WAIT until you find out what the results of the match are in December. Build your backup plan ahead of time so the programs aren’t full if you need to resort to plan B. Play it safe - adapt and overcome!

General Medical Officer (GMO)

In the event you complete your Intern year and do not match the second time around you will be assigned as a General Medical Officer.  Military post-graduates are not eligible to become a GMO until an intern year has been completed.  Becoming a GMO offers a unique military experience including dive and flight medicine.  This can become your career, or you can use it to boost your eligibility for residency in the following years. 

STEP 7: Letters of Recommendation

The Standardized Letter of Evaluation (or SLOE) is a special letter of recommendation that is required by EM residencies. You can find the SLOE, as well as all related information, on the CORD website at https://www.cordem.org/esloe. You should have at least two SLOEs which can be written by either military or non-military mentors.

  • Pro-tip: Be familiar with this process and everything the SLOE entails.  Don’t assume it’s like any other LoR. The more you understand about the process the better prepared you will be for the evaluation.
  • Pro-tip: Don’t assume SLOEs will be written for you.  Ask at the beginning of your audition rotation. 
  • Pro-tip: While non-military letter writers are accepted the military will give more weight to a SLOE from a military residency.  Get these taken care of during your auditions.
  • Pro-tip: If applying to ERAS be sure to request letter writers to go through the process of submitting to ERAS.

STEP 8: The Waiting Game

Now that you have submitted your applications, completed your audition rotations, and survived your interviews, it is time to wait for a decision. After the final submission deadline passes and all applicant interviews are performed, the Program Directors get together and spend the better part of 6-8 weeks evaluating, discussing, and matching each applicant to their respective program. Each PD puts together their order of merit list of candidates and turns it into their GME offices. These lists are then presented to a general officer board who determine the final lists. Nothing is official until the release day in mid-December. 

The Point System

There are a lot of rumors regarding a strict point-based system for evaluation of medical student candidates.  Although we cannot comment on other branches, in the Army, students applying directly from medical school are evaluated based on a program-specific system.  Each individual program’s system is not publicized and does not follow the point-based rubrics frequently distributed.  In contrast, those applying in a non-traditional manner (GMO, TY, Intern year) may be subject to a strict point-based system, however this system is not publicized.

  • Pro-tip: Don’t overthink this, you are a student with strengths and weaknesses.  Try to accent your strengths and work on your weak areas. 

Best of luck with your residency application! You got this!

GSEMRA would like to thank the program faculty at BAMC, MAMC, and CRDAMC for their insight and support in creating this guide. All of the information above has been reviewed by members of the GME office at each program

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