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Terms and Resources


AAMC Association of American Medical Colleges.

Accreditation The process of review and approval of formal programs in medical education that have met specified standards for their content, organization, and conduct.

Board Certification The process of voluntary testing and evaluation of physicians who wish to be identified as a specialist in a particular field of medicine. Candidates must complete a defined period of postgraduate education in an accredited residency program (3 to 7 years), followed by success with certifying examinations (written and/or oral).

Early Match See San Francisco Match and Urology Match.

ERAS - The Electronic Residency Application Service. This is a web-based enterprise through which candidates distribute application materials to prospective residency programs.

Fellowship Additional period of training in a subspecialty that occurs after completion of a general residency (i.e. a physician interested in becoming a qualified cardiologist will complete three years of residency in Internal Medicine followed by three or more years of training in a Cardiology fellowship).

FREIDA The Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database. This is a very useful web-based resource for information about residency programs.

Licensure Legal permission conferred by states granting individuals the privilege to practice medicine. Licensure typically requires medical school graduation, success with all three parts of the USMLE, and a formal application to the licensing agency. Full licensure requires at least one year of postgraduate training. During the first postgraduate year, a “provisional” or “training” license is provided.  Information regarding the licensure process in each state can be found on the website of the Federation of State Medical Boards at:

Matching The process by which most medical students obtain an appointment for the PGY-1 year. Applicants construct and rank order a list of the programs they would like to join for their residency training, while programs similarly create a priority list of the candidates they would prefer to recruit into their programs. A computer algorithm merges the two groups so that applicants get the highest-ranked program that also ranked them ahead of other candidates.

NRMP (The National Resident Matching Program) The process by which senior students (as well as previous graduates) are matched into residency and fellowship programs. The process is completed in March of each year.

Residency – A period of training in a specific medical specialty, referred to as Graduate Medical Education (GME). Residency education occurs after graduation from medical school and the length varies from three to seven years, depending on the specialty.

Categorical Residency Position (C) Residency position that starts at the PGY-1 level, inclusive of the intern year, such as Medicine and Pediatrics.

Preliminary Residency Position (P) – A one-year-only residency position that starts at the PGY- 1 level and provides a year of clinical experience before moving into an “advanced” specialty.

Advanced Residency Position (A) – Programs that begin in the PGY-2 year after a year of prerequisite training. Senior medical students matching into an Advanced Residency Position must also match into a Preliminary position.
A few specialties that offer “advanced/PGY-2” residency positions also have programs that automatically provide a first year “preliminary” position in the same hospital or medical center. These are designated “categorical” programs. This is a convenience that avoids the need to try to match into a first year position independently. For example a ‘’categorical” anesthesiology program comes with its own PGY-1 year whereas an “Advanced,” anesthesiology programs does not and will require the student to match into a separate preliminary year.

Residency Programs Programs in the GME. Many are affiliated with traditional university-based academic medical centers. Some are sponsored by private hospitals or communities.

Residency Review Committee (RRC) The body responsible for accrediting residency programs for a particular specialty. There are 28 Residency Review Committees sponsored by the Member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the specialty societies, and the American Medical Association (AMA). The accreditation process involves development of extensive written descriptions of program content and structure followed by a site visit to the program by a Residency Review Committee. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) oversees the accreditation of training in all specialties and must approve or disapprove the recommendations for accreditation made by the Residency Review Committee. The accreditation of medical schools is conducted by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), a joint committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the AMA.

San Francisco Match The matching program used by candidates interested in securing an “advanced” residency position.  It sometimes is referred to as the “early match.” Those who are seeking positions in Ophthalmology will use the San Francisco Match.

SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program) Unmatched applicants may apply through ERAS for unfilled residency positions. Unmatched students will be notified on Monday. On Tuesday, students submit preferred lists via ERAS. Programs may conduct phone or other interviews with applicants starting Tuesday and run through Thursday with offers to follow. Reveal will occur on Friday. Last offers from programs to candidates expire 5 p.m. Thursday. 

Transitional Position This is a residency position similar to a Preliminary position in that it starts at the PGY-1 level and provides one year of clinical experience before the physician moves into an “advanced” position. Transitional positions typically are sponsored by several departments, such as Medicine and Pediatrics, and provide experiences in an array of disciplines. These are similar to what used to be referred to as “rotating internships” and are diminishing in availability.

Urology Match – The matching program used by candidates interested in securing an “advanced” position in Urology.

USMLE (United States Medical License Examination) – For physicians in the US, all states require that his three-part examination must be passed before licensure is conferred. As you know, Step 1 typically is taken at the conclusion of the second year of medical school. Step 2-CK consists of written (clinical knowledge) questions and Step 2-CS involves practical (clinical skills) components. It usually is taken early in the fourth year so that scores can be made available to prospective residency programs.  Step 3 is a two-day written examination taken toward the end or just after the completion of the PGY-1 year.


The following websites were referenced in the various sections of this Guide:

Careers in Medicine -


Federation of State Medical Boards -




OU Writing Center - David L. Boren Student Union, Room 214, 405-271-2416

PRISM - Download the NRMP MATCH PRISM app on the App Store or get it on Google Play

Prometric -

San Francisco Match -

Urology Match -