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Couple Matching for IMGs

August 5, 2011

I get asked about the chances for couples in the match.

The NRMP gushes about couples chances for the match but I’m not convinced that this is the golden ticket for IMGs.

“Couples enjoy great success, with match rates above 90 percent every year since 1984. In 2011, the match rate for couples was 94.6 percent, up from 93.4 percent in 2010. About 79 percent of couples are U.S. seniors, and their match rates are quite similar to those of their classmates, varying within 1 or 2 percentage points each year. Couples have the option of one partner indicating a willingness to go unmatched at a certain rank on the rank order list if the partner matches to the program linked to that rank.”

The problem is that this data might not speak to IMG couples.  “About 79 percent of couples are U.S. seniors.”  I can’t take this to mean that 21% of couples who match are IMGs. The data does not include US grads (3% of matched not in med school at the time of match) or DOs (6% of matched). Extrapolating the data, 290 of the 4600 IMGs (US AND non-US) who match are in the couple match.  I strongly suspect that most of these are US IMGs.

Remember that only 40%-50% of IMGs who interview match. I don’t give special consideration to IMG couples.  I don’t advice couples to couple match.  You are only as good as the weakest link (either yours or your partner’s).  If your partner has multiple attempts on the CS exam and low scores, neither you nor your partner will match.  If you must couple match do opt for the following option: “indicate a willingness to go unmatched at a certain rank on the rank order list if the partner matches to the program linked to that rank.”

So the couple match is not the golden ticket to residency.

The views expressed in this post are those of Kenneth Christopher, MD and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. Christopher’s employer Partners HealthCare.

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