Skip to main content

Glossary of Terms

Advanced (PGY-2) Residency Positions: An “advanced” or PGY-2 position does not commence until 1-2 years after the match and requires completion of 1 or more years of preliminary training. The following specialties offer advanced positions (some of these may also have programs which offer categorical positions): Anesthesiology, Child Neurology, Dermatology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, PM&R, Plastic Surgery, Radiation-Oncology, and Radiology. Programs in Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Urology are advanced programs which “bundle” in a preliminary year in General Surgery and do not generally require a separate preliminary application process.

Categorical Residency Positions: A “categorical” position is one which offers full residency training required for board certification in that specialty.

Early Match: Ophthalmology, Urology, and all residency programs run by the military are early match programs. Applicants in Ophthalmology apply and match through the San Francisco Match (, while applicants in Urology apply via ERAS and match via the American Urological Association ( Ophthalmology applications are due in July and Urology applications in September. Rank lists are submitted in December/ January, and match results are posted in January.

ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service): ERAS is a website that helps with the management of applications, LORs, Medical Student Performance Evaluations (MSPEs), medical school transcripts, USMLE transcripts, and other supporting documents. ERAS begins transmitting applications on September 15.

LoRs (Letters of Recommendation): Anywhere between 3-6 LoRs are necessary for an application to residency, depending on the program and number of specialties to which a student applies. Applicants should ask for LORs no later than 6 weeks in advance of submitting their application and they should ask a physician with a good sense of their clinical ability, clinical performance, and personal interests.

Match Day: Match Day is held on Friday of the third week in March. All US seniors open their match envelopes from the NRMP after 12:00 p.m. EST to find out into which residency program they have matched.

MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation): A letter of evaluation which describes a student’s performance through their medical school career. The MSPE includes an assessment of both the student’s academic performance and professional attributes. OSA will upload the MSPE's and release them to residency programs on October 1.

MSPE Writer: Is one of three faculty members at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that you choose to help you through the application process. Your chosen MSPE writer provides counseling and feedback in the career selection and implementation process, navigation of the match process, and review of application materials, including the personal statement and ERAS application.

NRMP (National Resident Matching Program): The NRMP ( conducts a residency match that is designed to optimize the rank-ordered choices of students and program directors. On Friday of the third week of March, the results of the match are announced. With the exception of early match programs, all residency programs use the NRMP. The applicant registration deadline is the end of November and the Rank Order List deadline is the end of February. The NRMP is not the same as ERAS. You use ERAS to submit your application; you use the NRMP to submit your rank list.

PGY (Post-Graduate Year): PGY-1 is an intern position; PGY-2 or higher is a resident position.

Preliminary Residency Positions (PGY-1): A “preliminary”, or PGY-1, the position offers only 1-2 years of training prior to entry into advanced specialty programs. A lot of internal medicine and surgery training programs offer preliminary positions in addition to categorical positions. Transitional year programs are also considered preliminary programs.

ROL (Rank Order Lists): Rank order lists are the lists of programs in order of preference submitted by applicants to the NRMP before the deadline (last week of February). Matched applicants consistently have longer ROLs than unmatched applicants; in 2014, the average number of ranked programs for matched U.S. applicants was 11.5.

SLOE (Standardized Letter of Recommendation): Some specialties, like Emergency Medicine and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, require a SLOE from an applicant’s home institution. Check with your specialty advisor to see if this applies to you.

SOAP (Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program): SOAP is a program administered by the NRMP that begins on the Monday of Match Week. Through the SOAP, students who have not matched to a residency program can submit additional applications through ERAS in an effort to obtain a residency position.

VSLO (Visiting Student Learning Opportunities): VSLO is an AAMC service helping to streamline the process of applying for away rotations. Through VSLO, students are able to submit applications for away rotations. Check VSLO to find a list of participating institutions. VSLO also provides a centralized location for managing offers and tracking decisions.