San Francisco Match
What is the San Francisco Match?
The San Francisco Match is used by some of the early matching residency programs, including ophthalmology. Registration for these early match programs and the Central Application Service (CAS) forms can be completed at SFmatch (You may hear that in the past, you needed to physically mail portions of your application to the SF Match via the United States Postal Service. This is no longer the case for most matches and all aspects of the application can be uploaded and submitted electronically). You must still register with NRMP to secure your position in the intern year.
Where to Begin
It is a good idea to go to the SF Match website NOW and look at the timeline for your specialty, even if you have not decided for sure yet. Unlike the regular match, each of the early match programs has different deadlines and different match dates. Register for the match in early June (Registration for last year opened on June 1, 2017). Once you do, you will be sent a password with which you can access the online program directory. The SF Match has “target dates” instead of actual deadlines, which is when they recommend having your application completed. This is usually in early September. However, some programs have application deadlines of their own, usually late September or early October (which you need access to the directory to find out). The SF Match gives a timeline of 2-3 weeks for certification and distribution of your application to your programs. This means having your application ready in mid to late August, so plan your senior sub-I’s and rotations accordingly. In addition to deadline dates, interview dates specific to individual programs are also sometimes on the SF Match website.
The CAS now requires your photo. It will not be distributed with programs until you are invited for an interview.
Once you submit, check the individual program information on SF Match. Some of the programs now require secondaries (Usually ~300 – 400 words about why you specifically want to go to their program because they receive so many applications). Many programs will e-mail you asking for this after they have received your application. However, so do not e-mail you and only have this information in the description of the program on SF Match. Additionally, make sure you are checking both your e-mail and you inbox on SF Match. Sometimes messages do not get forwarded to your e-mail and you may miss submitting the secondary by the deadline.
Extra Tip: When submitting your application, make sure you apply to all of the programs at once or at least the first 40. If you apply to a second batch, it will cost you $35 per program and you will not get the cheaper fees for the first 40.
Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation
You will need a copy of your college transcript for the SF Match. Direct your letter writers to email their letters to OSA who will then put this together with your medical school transcript and letters of recommendation and upload it for you to the CAS application. CAS only takes 3 LORs so make them count, i.e. get as many department heads or well-known faculty as possible! Usually these letters are from Dr. Jeng/Dr. Richa, another ophthalmology faculty you have worked closely with and an attending you worked with on your medicine/pediatrics/surgery rotation. If you want more, you can have the letter writer email them straight to the program coordinator (as long as the program does not specifically say not to do this).
The Dean’s Letter (MSPE)
You will be notified to schedule a meeting in spring/summer with one of four deans who will prepare your dean's letter. Bring your CV and your personal statement if ready (this isn’t necessary, though). After your meeting, your dean's letter will be created within a few weeks, and in September a GPA calculation and an indication of your numerical class standing will be coded at the end of the letter. In mid-September, you will have the opportunity to review your dean’s letter and help correct any errors. The letter will go out to CAS/residency programs on October 1st from OSA. Because the early match applications are sent in before this, many programs will begin offering interviews before the dean’s letter is released. This being said, many programs also wait for this letter to offer their interviews.
The SF Match can provide a true couples match only if you and your partner are participating in the SAME match. If not, they provide a limited free service as a courtesy that offers you feedback about your partner’s chances in their later match and gives you the option to revise your rank list to match where your partner also has a good chance.
For more information about the SF Match please contact:
Last Revision: March 14, 2018