MATCHING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
NEW: Virtual-Only Interviews
The virtual-only interview policy, which the FC instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue indefinitely. While there was consensus to keep interviews virtual, there was a clear interest by some programs to incorporate an in-person component. To do this equitably, the FC has enacted two changes that will remain optional.
1) Although formal interviews must be virtual, the shortened application window will allow interested program directors to arrange informal meetings with applicants during the sponsoring societies’ spring conference schedules (SAGES, AHPBA, and others).
2) The program and applicant rank order list deadlines will be uncoupled. Programs must submit and certify their rank order list four (4) weeks before fellows must do the same. During those four weeks, and only during those four weeks, so-called on-site “second visits” will be allowed. Programs that choose to use this option, as it remains voluntary, must make it clear to applicants that this is not mandatory and cannot affect their ranking in the match, as the rank order list for the program would have been submitted and certified.
The following Rules and Regulations governing reporting, investigating and resolving violations concerning agreements involving the Fellowship Council.
The Fellowship Council (FC) has decided to control the means by which the integrity of the matching process is protected by causing all matching process participants to conduct themselves appropriately during the matching process.
A. Rules Regarding Reporting
The FC requires each matching process participant to enter into an FC Match Participation Agreement. Also, each FC matching process participant shall do the following:
1. Report violations of the Participation Agreements, such as:
a) failing to provide complete, timely, and accurate information during the application, interview and matching process;
b) discrepancies in graduation credentials;
c) attempts to subvert eligibility requirements or the matching process itself;
d) failing to offer or accept appointments as required by the results of a matching process; and
e) any other irregular behavior or activities that occur in connection with registration the submission or modification of a rank order list, and/or the participant’s commitment to honor the matching process outcome.
2. Reporting Procedures
a) Who may report suspected violations? The FC Board and Committee members, Program Directors and Applicants may report suspected violations of the Participation Agreements;
b) When will an investigation be initiated? Not until the FC has received a written or electronic report concerning the possible violation, in which the author of the report is identified. The person reporting the violation may request confidentiality;
c) The FC will acknowledge all such written reports in order to make an initial verification of their authenticity within seven business days of the receipt of the notice of suspected violation; and
d) To whom at the FC must alleged violations be sent?
The Fellowship Council
11300 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90064
E-mail: [email protected]
B. Confirmation and Investigation Rules and Regulations
1. The FC will take the following steps to confirm reported alleged violations:
a) The FC Chair will contact the party or parties (applicant or program director) identified in the report and any other person with knowledge of the incident. The FC will advise all of these parties of the substance of these alleged violations and that on investigation is pending;
b) The FC requires all named parties to cooperate with the investigation by providing the FC with a written statement and whatever documentation that is in their possession that is relevant to the investigation; and
c) Said response to the allegation(s) is due within ten business days from the dates of the FC acknowledgement letter.
2. Investigation Rules and Regulations
a) All allegations will be provided a full examination and evaluation. The Parties agree to permit FC to contact other individuals/institutions in the course of acquiring information/data about the alleged incident and/or conduct;
b) The FC will evaluate and/or further investigate the responses from the Parties and, if appropriate, prepare a Preliminary Report at its earliest convenience. The Preliminary Report will document the nature of the allegation and the results of the FC’s investigation in the following ways:
1. If the results of the investigation indicate that a violation has not occurred, the case will be closed, and all parties identified in the original report will be notified thereof in writing or electronically;
2. If the results of the investigation indicate that a violation may have occurred, the Preliminary Report will be distributed to the subject of the violation, and any other parties the FC considers relevant to the investigation. The parties will be given ten business days from receipt of the Preliminary Report to review and respond to the Preliminary Report in writing by certified mail and provide additional information to the FC;
3. If the results of the investigation indicate a violation may have occurred but due to special circumstances, the case may be closed at the sole discretion of the FC and its Communications Committee then all Parties identified in the original report will be notified thereof in writing or electronically; and
4. After receiving any additional information, a revised report may be prepared for consideration by the FC Communications Committee.
c) The FC Communications Committee will determine whether a violation has occurred and, if so, the appropriate action for the violation. It will issue a Report that sets forth the decision of the Communications Committee to the FC Board, which will then have the following options:
1. If the FC Board determines that no violation has occurred, the Report will become the Final Report, and a letter will be sent to all parties concerned advising them of the FC’s decision and it will be issued to all parties listed on the Report;
2. If the FC Board determines that a violation has occurred, the Report will be sent to the subject of the investigation, and the FC shall note on its web site that the subject of the investigation has a “pending action”. The designation shall remain in place until the subject of the investigation has waived or exhausted the opportunity to contest the adverse action pursuant to Section E below. If he/she/it does not contest the FC Board decision in accordance with the procedures specified below, the Report will become the Final Report and it will be issued to all parties listed on the Report, as well as to those parties specified in Section D below. Unless otherwise determined by the FC Board, the effective date of the Final Report will be the date that it is finalized for issuance to such parties.
At any time during the review of an investigation, the FC is able to suspend from the matching process, any applicant or program against whom credible evidence indicates a violation of the terms of the Match Participation Agreement. If an applicant or program is suspended from the matching process, the FC is permitted to publish on the FC web site that the applicant or program is the subject of a “pending action” or suspended. The designation will remain in place until the applicant or program has waived or exhausted the opportunity to contest the adverse action pursuant to Section E below. Applicants or programs suspended from the matching process will be provided the chance to be heard in accordance with the relevant terms of the Participation Agreement in order to regain their eligibility status.
D. Potential Consequences If Allegations of a Violation are Established
1. Once an investigation is completed and a violation of a Participation Agreement is established against an individual applicant:
a) The Final Report will be delivered to the applicant with copies to:
1. the applicant’s medical school official, with a request that the Final Report be placed in the applicant’s permanent file;
2. the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates if the applicant is a student/graduate of a foreign medical school;
3. the FC institutional official and the director of the program to which the applicant matched;
4. the FC institutional official and director of the program to which the applicant has applied or switched (if known);
5. the FC Executive Committee;
6. the American Board of Medical Specialties;
7. the applicant’s residency program director;
8. the Federation of State Medical Boards if the applicant is to be permanently identified as a match violator or has been permanently barred from future FC matching processes; and
9. any other parties whom the FC determines at its sole discretion to be relevant or necessary to notify of its investigation.
b) In addition, the applicant may be barred from subsequent FC matching processes and/or identified as a matching process violator to participating programs for a period of up to three years or permanently, as determined by the FC. Violations committed prior to the date for announcement of fellowship matches may result in the applicant being withdrawn from the matching process.
c) The applicant also may be barred from accepting a position in another FC matching process-participating program that has a start date within one year from the date of the Final Report. If any FC matching process-participating program offers a position to that applicant to commence training during that one-year period or if the applicant accepts such a position, the FC will initiate an investigation to determine whether the applicant or the program has violated the terms of the Participation Agreement.
d) The decision conveyed in the Final Report shall be displayed on the FC web site for as long as the FC decides at its sole discretion. Term limits of any sanction(s) imposed for the violation will be included to identify the duration of time the terms of the Final Report remains in effect.
2. For completed investigations confirming a violation of a Participation Agreement by a sponsoring institution and/or program:
a) The Final Report will be delivered to the program director with copies to:
1. the FC institutional official for transmittal to the institution’s graduate medical education committee;
2. the FC Accreditation Committee;
3. the respective specialty program director association;
4. the FC Executive Committee; and
5. any other parties whom the FC has determined are relevant to its investigation
b) The program may be barred from future FC matching processes and/or identified as a matching process violator for up to three years or permanently, as determined by the FC. The program’s membership in the FC and accreditation status may be terminated. Violations committed prior to date for announcement of fellowship matches may result in the program being withdrawn from the matching process.
c) An FC matching process- participating program is prohibited from offering a position to any applicant who is ineligible to accept a position in an FC match-participating program as the result of a confirmed violation by the applicant. Such ban applies to all positions with a start date within one year after the date of the FC’s Final Report establishing a violation by the applicant. Any matching process-participating program that offers a position to an applicant who is ineligible to accept a position as the result of a confirmed violation, initiates training within the one-year period, or if the ineligible applicant accepts a position within that period of time, will be subject to an FC investigation to determine whether the applicant or the program has violated the terms of the Participation Agreement.
d) The FC website shall display the decision conveyed in the Final Report for as long as necessary pursuant to the FC’s sole discretion. The length of an imposed sanction(s) for the violation will be published on the FC website.
E. Contesting a Final Report
Arbitration shall be the sole remedy for any party wanting to contest a Final Report under the terms of such Participation Agreement. Any party seeking to contest a Review Panel decision must notify the FC by certified mail of the intent to seek arbitration within 10 business days from that party’s receipt of the Panel’s report and must file a demand for arbitration with the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) Alternative Dispute Resolution Service within 30 calendar days of receipt of such report. Upon receipt by the FC of the intent to arbitrate, the penalties imposed and the distribution of the Final Report will be suspended until the arbitration has been completed. If notice of a party’s intent to seek arbitration is not received by the FC within 10 business days from that party’s receipt of the Report, or if the party does not file a demand for arbitration with the AHLA within 30 calendar days of receipt of the Final Report, that party is deemed to have waived and is barred from later filing a demand for arbitration or seeking other relief. If the party seeking arbitration fails to have the Final Report set aside, then that party shall be responsible for reimbursing the FC and any other third party involved in the arbitration the reasonable attorneys fees and costs incurred while engaged throughout the arbitration process.
All notices, reports, and other communications under these Rules and Regulations shall be in writing and shall be deemed received (a) when delivered personally; (b) when received if deposited in the U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, or sent registered or certified mail, return receipt requested; (c) 24 hours after being delivered to a nationally recognized and receipted overnight courier service; (d) 24 hours after being sent by e-mail, unless the sending party is notified that the e mail address is invalid or that the message was not delivered; or (e) when sent by facsimile, provided the sending party has received confirmation that the facsimile was transmitted successfully, to the FC at the address shown in Section A or to any other party at the address on file at the FC or designated by written notice to the FC.