Every residency match creates some degree of anxiety as fourth year medical students wait to learn where they will begin their chosen residency. For students who do not match, this news always comes with disappointment, and it can be a hard pill to swallow. But it's important to remember that matching is not the same as placement, and if you don’t match, you still have several options available to you if you act quickly.
First, clear your schedule.
Speak with your current program director and ask to take some time off to plan for your next steps. You'll need some time to speak with your advisor, who may suggest that you get updated letters of recommendation, update your personal statement, or consider new specialties to apply for. You'll also need some time to plan for and participate in SOAP.
The same week of the Match, the NRMP begins the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). Developed in partnership with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), SOAP replaces the post-match "scramble" as the process for placing students.
SOAP is not another match in and of itself, but rather a list of offers put together by graduate medical education programs. Under SOAP, applicants undergo three rounds in which positions are offered to applicants based on a program's preference list. Each round lasts two hours, during which time applicants can accept or reject any offer received.
There is no separate registration for SOAP, and unlike with the match, applicants do not submit a rank order list. To be eligible, applicants must:
already be registered for NRMP's Main Residency Match
be able to enter graduate medical education by July 1 of the current year
be partially matched or fully unmatched on the Monday of match week
NRMP notifies all applicants by email whether they are SOAP-eligible, and an applicant’s SOAP
eligibility also will be posted on the applicant’s home page in the NRMP’s R3 system. More information about SOAP can be found here: http://www.nrmp.org/match-week-soap-applicants/
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reports that while SOAP is very competitive, most students are successfully matched after its completion. For those who don't find a program with SOAP, there are still many options for students to consider.
The AOA Post-Match helps the students who didn't match connect with programs that still have open training positions after the NRMP match process concludes. More information can be found on AOA's Post-Match website.
Aside from the AOA Post-Match, you should also speak with your school advisor about other options for your next steps, such as working as an assistant physician, or getting involved in a research project or master’s program at your current school. Your advisor can help you make the best decision based on your situation and expectations.