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Feb 13, 2016
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Hello everybody!
I tried looking for the answer to this everywhere could someone with information on this please help us out. The NRMP couples match video just barely touches a fact where it says couples have to be " ranked at the same rank level" to successfully match together.
Me and my S.O. have applied to the same specialty , but with different applications and different number of ranks, although our top three are the same. We ideally (obviously) both want to be at our joint top rank but ever since I heard this on the NRMP video I am concerned about what it means exactly. Does it mean if we aren't ranked back to back it will go straight to the next combination, or does the rank level mean a broader term?
Any help/advice would be extremely valuable since we are actually considering one of us ranking only one and the other ranking all of them in individuals match.

Thank you in advance !!
 

URHere

10+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2007
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"Ranked at the same level" just means that you both need to match to one of the specific combinations of programs listed on your rank list. For example, if your list looks like this:

Person 1 - Person 2
Program A - Program A
Program B - Program B
Program C - Program C
Program A - Program B

Both people have to match such that one of these combinations is possible. If person 1 was ranked highly only by program A, while person 2 was ranked highly only by program C, both people are out of luck because a Program A - Program C pairing wasn't on the rank list. In that case, neither person would match. If person 1 was ranked highly by program A, and person 2 was ranked highly by program B, that's fine because it's one of the options on the rank list. You don't need to be ranked "back to back" but you can't both match at the same program unless you both would have matched there as individual applicants.

Any help/advice would be extremely valuable since we are actually considering one of us ranking only one and the other ranking all of them in individuals match.
I'm not sure what this means. If you're implying that one of you is going to suicide match by only listing one program on your list...that is a horrible, terrible, very-likely-to-cause-heartache idea.
 
Feb 13, 2016
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Thank you for your answer I really am grateful. Yes I understand it's a terrible idea, and it's something I don't want to do at all, if we can help it. Our only reason for considering that that was our understanding from the Nrmp tutorial video and from people I have talked to about this, that if the couple isn't ranked close together (considering its the same program) the algorithm switches to the next desired combination. We didn't want one of us to lose out on that program because of our ROL's being linked together.
Okay so now my understanding is as long as we would match there individually, regardless of how far apart we are on the rank order the combination would still work and the algorithm wouldn't move to the next rank just because we aren't ranked near each other, correct?

"Ranked at the same level" just means that you both need to match to one of the specific combinations of programs listed on your rank list. For example, if your list looks like this:

Person 1 - Person 2
Program A - Program A
Program B - Program B
Program C - Program C
Program A - Program B

Both people have to match such that one of these combinations is possible. If person 1 was ranked highly only by program A, while person 2 was ranked highly only by program C, both people are out of luck because a Program A - Program C pairing wasn't on the rank list. In that case, neither person would match. If person 1 was ranked highly by program A, and person 2 was ranked highly by program B, that's fine because it's one of the options on the rank list. You don't need to be ranked "back to back" but you can't both match at the same program unless you both would have matched there as individual applicants.



I'm not sure what this means. If you're implying that one of you is going to suicide match by only listing one program on your list...that is a horrible, terrible, very-likely-to-cause-heartache idea.
 
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Sep 16, 2015
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the phrase "ranked at the same level" is more referring to the applicants doing the ranking, rather than the programs. it's a clumsy way of saying what @URHere described more eloquently. it is not saying that the programs need to rank both of you back to back.

in any case, just like the individual match, you should still rank your choices based on where you want to go, not where you think you will get in (the one *possible* exception being if either of you is applying to advanced programs as well.)

it sounds like one person in the couple would rather match at a specific program, even if it means not being in the same program (or maybe even city) as the other. if so, your rank list should look something like

Person 1 - Person 2
1 Program A - Program A
2 Program A - Program B
3 Program A - Program C
4 Program A - Program D
5 Program A - Program E
6 Program B - Program B
7 Program C - Program C
8 Program D - Program D
....
etc., etc.
...
15 Program A - unmatched


It would be up to you guys to figure out how you might want to rank programs starting at the sixth rank (at least in this example). BUT, if person 1 lists every single possible combination with the desired program AND lists Program A - unmatched ABOVE any rank where person A is unmatched, then the chances of Person 1 matching at program A would be the same as if he/she were ranking individually.

Feel free to share your prospective rank list (with the program names substituted out) if you like...it does sound like you might be on the verge of creating a rank list that might not be in either of your's best interest...
 

URHere

10+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2007
1,784
567
Status
Attending Physician
Thank you for your answer I really am grateful. Yes I understand it's a terrible idea, and it's something I don't want to do at all, if we can help it. Our only reason for considering that that was our understanding from the Nrmp tutorial video and from people I have talked to about this, that if the couple isn't ranked close together (considering its the same program) the algorithm switches to the next desired combination. We didn't want one of us to lose out on that program because of our ROL's being linked together.
Okay so now my understanding is as long as we would match there individually, regardless of how far apart we are on the rank order the combination would still work and the algorithm wouldn't move to the next rank just because we aren't ranked near each other, correct?
Yes. If you both would have matched there individually, you will match there as a couple. The algorithm gives you your favorite match when possible, so if the program goes down 50 spots on their list, it doesn't matter if one of you is #1 and the other is #50, you both match. As @littleredwagon described, the best thing to do is to list every possible combination of programs on your rank list. As long as "Program A-unmatched", "Program B-unmatched", etc show up on the list, you will each have the same chance of matching as you would have had as individual applicants.
 
Feb 13, 2016
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Thank you, everyone for the kind advice, it really does mean a lot to both of us.

I am aware of listing all possible combinations for a realistically and statistically equal chance of matching as we would with individuals match, but we aren't considering combinations where we match in geographically separate places. I am also aware that a lot of people would suggest that with the increasingly competitive residency match each successive season we should bite the pill of possibly being apart for 3 years, but we both feel like we have seen enough people suffer doing that ( they didn't couples match).
For us, and for people from our school (IMG's) there really hasn't been anyone who has tried this before so it is uncharted territory, that is why we are so cautious. Again, our only real reason for considering the "suicide match" for one of us, was to avoid one of us not making it to our top choice just because our applications were linked. But this post certainly alleviated that for me, and I am truly grateful to all of you.
We have decided to go ahead with the couples match, and although the number of ranks are almost half of the mathematical (n+1)x(n+1)-1 number of ranks ( where we have ranked all combinations with either of us going unmatched but not where we match in different places geographically), it is a decision I believe we need to be strong about, for the good of both of us. Wish us luck! :)
 
Sep 16, 2015
15
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Thank you, everyone for the kind advice, it really does mean a lot to both of us.

I am aware of listing all possible combinations for a realistically and statistically equal chance of matching as we would with individuals match, but we aren't considering combinations where we match in geographically separate places. I am also aware that a lot of people would suggest that with the increasingly competitive residency match each successive season we should bite the pill of possibly being apart for 3 years, but we both feel like we have seen enough people suffer doing that ( they didn't couples match).
For us, and for people from our school (IMG's) there really hasn't been anyone who has tried this before so it is uncharted territory, that is why we are so cautious. Again, our only real reason for considering the "suicide match" for one of us, was to avoid one of us not making it to our top choice just because our applications were linked. But this post certainly alleviated that for me, and I am truly grateful to all of you.
We have decided to go ahead with the couples match, and although the number of ranks are almost half of the mathematical (n+1)x(n+1)-1 number of ranks ( where we have ranked all combinations with either of us going unmatched but not where we match in different places geographically), it is a decision I believe we need to be strong about, for the good of both of us. Wish us luck! :)
I think I (and maybe others) were worried that you were ranking a few combinations only, but it sounds like you are putting down a lot more possibilities (i.e. half of your total possible combinations) which I think is totally reasonable. Good luck!!!
 
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