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The Successful Match


Steps to a Successful Residency Match

Step 1: Explore the Specialty


Before you pursue a career in ophthalmology, it's important to be well informed about the specialty. We've put together a great collection of articles and resources which are essential reading for the aspiring ophthalmologist. These articles will give you a better idea of the pros and cons of a career in the field, trends in the specialty, and hot topic issues for trainees. 


Hot Topics, Concerns, and Future Directions in Ophthalmology

Step 2: Review Ophthalmology Match Data


The ophthalmology match is not sponsored by the NRMP but by the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) through the San Francisco Match Program. Ophthalmology match results are announced in January. According to the AUPO, 484 of 790 applicants matched in 2018. A total of 306 applicants failed to match.

Of the matched applicants, 93% were U.S. seniors, 4% were graduates of U.S. medical schools, and 3% were international medical graduates.

Osteopathic applicants may also apply to 12 AOA-approved osteopathic ophthalmology residency programs.


2019 NRMP Match Results

Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria


"We receive more than 400 applications each year and invite approximately 50 applicants for a personal interview," writes the Department of Ophthalmology at VCU.


To maximize your chances of matching with your first-choice residency program in ophthalmology, you must become well informed as early as possible. In particular, you need to know the criteria residency programs use to select residents.


We recommend beginning with the following resources:


Selection Criteria for Residency


Interview with Dr. Marianne Green


The Successful Match: Getting into Ophthalmology

Episode 38: How I Matched Into Ophthalmology: An Interview with Sudip Thakar (Success in Medicine Podcast)


Step 4: Develop Your Strategy For Success

As competition for positions in the ophthalmology residency match intensifies, it's more important than ever to have in place the "right" strategy for success. To develop the optimal strategy, use our book, The Successful Match. It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical Women's Association, and numerous allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. AMSA wrote the book "provides the medical student reader with detailed preparation for the matching process." For more powerful information, sign up for our weekly update below.

Step 5: Make The Most Of Your Preclinical Years

The preclinical years of medical school are important for students considering a career in ophthalmology. Read more


Step 6: Apply For Scholarships & Awards

Winning medical school scholarships and awards can provide a major boost to your residency application, and set you apart from your peers. Awards can be placed in the application, MSPE (Dean's Letter), letters of recommendation, and CV. We have found that interviewers often ask about awards during residency interviews. Read more

Step 7: Assess Your USMLE Step 1 Score

The USMLE is an important factor in the ophthalmology residency selection process. In 2019, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 244. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 231. Read more

Step 8: Strive For Success During Clerkships

Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to ophthalmology residency programs. Read more

Step 9: Prepare A Powerful Residency Application

In my experience working with applicants, errors are common in the ERAS Application.  Although spelling and grammatical errors are frequently seen, equally common and dangerous are the less well appreciated errors. Read more

Step 10: Develop A Powerful Personal Statement

The personal statement is an important factor in the ophthalmology residency selection process. Read more

Step 11: Deliver An Impressive Interview Performance

An invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you're considered a competitive candidate for a residency position. However, your work is not done, and you need to be diligent in your interview preparation to maximize your chances of success. Read more

What if I didn't match?


If you were unsuccessful during your initial match cycle, you'll need to sit down with your dean or advisor to review your match strategy. In planning your reapplication, each of the steps above becomes even more important.


For those who seek additional expert assistance, we can provide that. Dr. Desai has had significant experience in helping re-applicants match successfully. 


This is provided via a Strategy for Success Session. Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation.