The residency application process is complex and can be overwhelming.

Students apply through two application services, the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and the San Francisco Central Application Service (CAS), depending on the specialty they wish to enter.

The San Francisco CAS offers application services for programs in child neurology and ophthalmology; ERAS is used by programs in the remaining specialties.

The process is further compounded by the fact that some specialties do not provide a first-year postgraduate training year (PGY-1), which means a student may need to participate in both application processes at the same time, one for a PGY-1 position and another for specialty training beginning as a PGY-2.

PGY-1 positions are most often found in programs that participate in ERAS that offer preliminary medicine, preliminary surgery and transitional year positions. On occasion, a family medicine or pediatrics program may offer a one-year only training experience.

Residency Matching Services

There are three match services: the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), the San Francisco Match for programs in child neurology and ophthalmology, and the Urology Match for programs in urology. These services facilitate the match process by deciding which medical students are assigned to a program for residency training.

All three collect rank order lists (preference lists) from their applicants and participating programs, and provide a process that determines the closest fit between the lists. The closest fit becomes the "match" for both. Each service provides a uniform date when decisions about residency selection are made by the applicants and programs, thus eliminating the pressure that may be placed on either party to make decisions before all options have been explored.

The San Francisco and Urology Matches are often referred to as the "early match" since their results are made available about two months before the results of the NRMP match. It is important to note that training in many programs in the San Francisco and urology matches begins after an applicant has completed one or two years of preliminary training. These applicants must participate in the NRMP match to apply to programs that offer this preliminary training.