The integrity of the dermatology National Resident Matching Program: results of a national study

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Oct;63(4):594-601. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.11.009.


Background: National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) policy outlines the conduct expected by both program directors and residency applicants. However, recent studies and personal experiences have introduced the possibility that NRMP policy is violated during the residency application process.

Objective: To investigate the communications that occur between dermatology applicants and dermatology programs during the residency application process.

Methods: From April to July 2009, we surveyed 2009 Stanford dermatology applicants, current US dermatology residents, and US dermatology program directors. The survey was anonymous and available online. The main outcome measures were the frequency and incidence of dermatology NRMP policy violations.

Results: Thirty-one percent of Stanford applicants and 19% of US dermatology residents felt pressured to reveal to programs how they ranked them before match day. Seventeen percent of Stanford applicants and 14% of US dermatology residents witnessed behavior that made them feel uncomfortable or that they thought was a possible ethical infraction of NRMP policy.

Limitations: Response rates were as follows: 43% of Stanford applicants, 46% of residents, and 61% of program directors.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that some dermatology program directors violate NRMP policy during their communications with applicants. The most widespread violation is pressuring applicants into revealing how they intend to rank programs. Other violations include apparent sexual discrimination and reserving NRMP positions for preselected applicants. Additional studies should be done in order to determine the incidence of dermatology applicants violating NRMP policy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatology / education*
  • Dermatology / ethics
  • Ethics, Professional
  • Faculty, Medical / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / ethics
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Personnel Selection / ethics*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States