NRMP contract issues

Residency Program Insider, July 18, 2006

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NRMP contract issues

After the Match, residency programs or the residents with whom they have matched may want their contract waived. However, both parties must go through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to legally comply with their agreement(s).

Each year, the NRMP, a private, not-for-profit corporation, conducts a residency match that is designed to optimize the rank-ordered choices of students and program directors. The NRMP imposes responsibilities on both the applicant and the residency program:

1) Applicants are required to sign the NRMP Match Participation Agreement when registering for the Match program.

2) A Match agreement between participating institutions and the NRMP is required.

According to these agreements, a match between an applicant and a program creates a binding commitment to accept or offer a position. The NRMP includes a process, under certain limited circumstances, in which the NRMP may grant an applicant or program a waiver of the match commitment if the outcome would result in "undue hardship."

A program cannot grant an applicant a waiver from the Match commitment. According to the NRMP, program directors must report all waiver requests to the NRMP, which will investigate to determine whether the waiver should be granted. If the NRMP does not grant a waiver, the applicant is expected to accept the matched position.

Additionally, if the NRMP denies the waiver and the applicant does not accept the match, the applicant may be prohibited from accepting a position in another NRMP match-participating program if training begins within one year from the date of the NRMP's decision. The determination to grant or deny a waiver request lies in the sole discretion of the NRMP. As stated in the NRMP policies, the burden is on the applicant to demonstrate serious hardship. For purposes of considering a waiver request, the NRMP defines "serious hardship" as significant adversity that honoring the match would bear upon the applicant's case.

According to the NRMP waiver policy, if a program is denied a waiver of its match commitment by the NRMP and does not accept the matched position, the program may be subject to a violation investigation for failure to honor its binding match commitment and may be barred from future NRMP matches and/or identified as a match violator for up to three years or permanently, as determined by the NRMP.

All the best,

Bruce D. Armon, Esq.

Partner, Saul Ewing LLP
Philadelphia, PA

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