Insights from San Francisco match rank lists, part II are programs doing it wrong?

Purushottam A. Nagarkar, Menyoli Malafa, Jeffrey E. Janis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Conclusions: The independent Plastic Surgery Match has become less competitive over the last decade. The low average number needed to match in the context of a high applicant match rate supports the hypothesis that programs and applicants may be modifying rank lists from a true-preference list. Noncompetitive applicants are occasionally ranked to match by a program, and these applicants tend to match at their top choice far more often than the average applicantVproviding further support to this hypothesis.

Background: It is well known that the ideal method of creating rank lists for the match is the "true-preference" strategy. However, there is anecdotal and survey-based evidence that programs and applicants often deviate from this strategy. We analyzed rank lists of applicants and programs participating in the Plastic Surgery San Francisco Match to investigate whether programs were following an optimal strategy.

Methods: We obtained deidentified program and applicant rank lists and their match results from SF Match for 4 years (2010Y2013). Statistical analysis was carried out with Microsoft Excel.

Results: The number of applicants, applications submitted, interviews offered, and match rate were all relatively stable over this 4-year period (range, 117Y138 applicants, 36Y41 applications, 9.0Y10.3 interviews per applicant, and 78%Y86% match rate). The "number needed to match" for programs was 4 (range, 1Y21). A subset of applicants had poor average ranks on program rank lists but was nevertheless ranked to match by one program. Forty-six percent of these applicants matched at their top choice compared to 20% of matched controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-426
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Independent match
  • Independent plastic surgery
  • Plastic surgery match
  • Rank list
  • SF match, match
  • San Francisco match

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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