Why are the AAMC and three specialties offering a supplemental ERAS application? When will it be available? How will residency programs use the new information? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more.
What is preference signaling?
Preference signaling refers to a process in which applicants express interest in a residency program at the time of application. Preference signals are intended to be used by programs as one of many data points in deciding whom to invite to interview.
Has signaling been used in residency selection or for other jobs?
Signaling was introduced to the residency selection process by the otolaryngology program, sponsored by three organizations, to facilitate interviews between applicants and programs for the 2021 application cycle. In general, applicants and program directors responded positively to the use of signals. For a more detailed summary of research on the otolaryngology signaling program and applicant and program director reaction surveys, see the Updates section of the otolaryngology signaling website.
Does signaling conflict with the terms and conditions outlined in the NRMP Match Participation Agreement?
No, as long as other Match rules continue to be followed.
Per Section 6.3 of the Match Participation Agreement For Applicants and Programs, “applicants and programs may voluntarily express their interest in each other; however, they shall not solicit verbal or written statements implying a commitment.” Section 6.3 also states that, “…at all times, applicants have the right to keep confidential all information pertaining to the names and identities of programs to which they have applied or may apply, keep confidential all information pertaining to offers and acceptance of interviews, and keep confidential all information pertaining to ranking preferences and SOAP preferences.”
Section 6.4 of the Match Agreement prohibits programs from asking applicants to reveal the names, specialties, geographic locations, or other identifying information about programs to which they applied. Likewise programs cannot request applicants to reveal any information pertaining to the interviews the were offered, accepted, declined, or attended or their ranking preferences. Violation of these restrictions within or outside of the signaling process may be referred to the NRMP for investigation of a possible match violation.
Does the signaling process limit the number of programs to which applicants may apply?
No, there are no restrictions on the number of applications an applicant submits.
How many programs will students be able to send a preference signal to?
The number of available signals depends on the specialty to which they apply. When deciding on the number of signals available per applicant, the AAMC and participating specialties considered the number of programs participating, value added by the signals, and fairness for applicants. The number of signals offered by each specialty is also addressed in the August webinars and in the Supplemental ERAS Application Guide.
|Number of Signals|
|Internal Medicine (Categorical)||5|
|Internal Medicine (Preliminary)||5|
Can I signal a program if it says “not participating” next to the program’s name in the application?
No. If a program is listed as “not participating,” it is no longer participating in the supplemental ERAS application and will not receive data from applicants.
Is choosing not to preference signal any institutions an option? Will program directors be able to see that an applicant did not send any signals?
Yes, applicants can choose not to send a signal. Programs will not see whether an applicant participated in signaling. They will only see whether or not an applicant signaled their program.
How will preference signaling be received by participating institutions?
Applicants’ preference signals will be provided to programs that are participating in the supplemental ERAS application and to which they applied. These data will be provided outside the ERAS system.
Will programs use this information to determine whom they invite for an interview?
Preference signals are intended to be used by programs as one of many data points in deciding whom to invite to interview. Programs will provide information about whether and how they will incorporate preference signals into their pre-interview screening process.
Will the preference signaling be bi-directional (i.e., will there be preference signaling from programs to individual applicants to determine if there is mutual interest)?
No, the preference signaling will not be bi-directional. The signal may be used by applicants to express interest in a residency program at the time of application. Programs will not be able to signal applicants.
Can students truly signal their top choice programs, or are they encouraged to signal their home program or “safe” choices to increase their odds of matching?
When deciding where to signal, applicants should consider the strength of their application, their ultimate career goals and personal circumstances with the relative competitiveness, and mission and goals of the programs to which they apply. Applicants should not send a signal to the program affiliated with their medical school or programs at which they completed an in-person away rotation or clinical sub-internship. Applicants are encouraged to work with faculty and resident mentors as they consider where to send their signals.
While signaling is intended to be used as an interview selection tool, what is to prevent programs from ranking students lower who didn’t signal them at the beginning?
The AAMC’s preference signaling program is intended to facilitate interview offers only. The AAMC will provide guidance and training to programs about appropriate use of preference signals. Program directors are aware that applicants’ preferences may change after signaling due to many factors, including applicants’ experiences on interview days.
Can every program see an applicant’s signals, or only programs who are signaled? Will programs who are not signaled receive a notification?
Programs that are participating in the supplemental ERAS application and to which an applicant has applied will see which applicants signaled their program and which did not. Programs will not have access to information about the other programs signaled.
How can applicants decide where to signal?
Advice to applicants should be individualized and based on the strength of their application, their ultimate career goals, personal circumstances with the relative competitiveness, and mission and goals of the programs to which they apply.
Advisors and mentors are encouraged to provide applicants with a realistic appraisal of the relative strength and competitiveness of their application within the dermatology, general surgery, and/or internal medicine applicant pools. The following data may be helpful to applicants, advisors and mentors:
- AAMC data on the point of diminishing returns
- Residency Explorer Tool
- NRMP data related to the 2020 Match
- Program listings in the MyERAS application
Applicants may consider signaling programs in which they have a particular interest but otherwise did not express in their MyERAS application. A signal in this scenario may impact the program’s perception of the applicant’s interest in their program.