😶 Match Week 2024: What if I Don't Match?

Medical Students

Happy Saturday! Today is March 9th, which means we are just 2 days away from the start of Match Week 2024!👀

I decided to send this edition of Sunday Morning Rounds out one day early🌅 so that the helpful information here can circulate more.

Last week during rounds, we talked about some tips to prepare for Match Week 2024. Despite those great tips, I've still seen plenty of students on X stressing in anticipation😅.

In a perfect world🌎, tomorrow morning every applicant will open their email and find out that they matched.

Unfortunately, the truth is this will not happen.

In fact, according to these statistics from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), in 2023 there were over 12,000 applicants who were unsuccessful in the initial match and went on to participate in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP).

As scary as this possibility is, it is not a reason to get discouraged. This week during rounds, we'll discuss some tips on what to do if you don't match at first have to enter the SOAP🧼.

Be sure to read until the end for a list of helpful resources!📃

  • Make preparations. If you truly believe you might not match based on factors like below average board scores or having too few programs to rank, now is the time to prepare for a potential SOAP. The most critical thing to do is harness your resources and practice your interview skills again. A successful SOAP requires a lot of interviews on short notice, so practice = preparation.
  • Know the timeline. This is the official calendar for the 2024 Main Residency Match. Before Match Week even starts, you should be aware of these dates and make sure your schedule is clear, both for good news and potential not so good news. There's even an option on the website to add these dates to your calendar. Do it now so you're not wasting time later.
  • Don't panic. So, you just found out that you did not match. First things first, remain calm. Each year thousands of applicants go through the SOAP and come out on the other side with a residency position...and you can too. In medical school there have been moments where we had to compartmentalize, dig in, and get some work done. Right now is simply a moment where you must do that again, one more time. Keeping a clear mind and a level head will allow you to execute at a high level.
  • Maximize your chances. During SOAP, you will be able to apply to a maximum of 45 participating programs that went unfilled in the initial match. Be sure to use all 45 of your applications. Although you can re-apply to programs you previously applied to, make sure you are casting a wide net. That means not being picky, applying to programs throughout the country, and potentially applying to programs outside of your preferred specialty. If you get an offer from a program, immediately accept it rather than holding out hope for something better. This is not the time to shoot for the stars...a sound plan will be more effective than a lofty one.
  • Focus your energy and emotions. This cannot be stressed enough. Participating in SOAP is a difficult and exhausting process but if done right, the rewards are bountiful. Stay off social media, ignore ALL the Match results screenshots on Instagram, and be selfish about your future. It's important to keep in mind, no matter how harsh it may sound, feelings of sadness and regret will get you absolutely nowhere.

All that being said, let's end on a more positive note💚. Match Week is a time of year when medical students across the US (and the world) get to celebrate the fruits of their labor and set the stage for the next chapter of their lives📖.

Whether you are successful through the initial match or find your new home via SOAP, the end result is the same and is something to be incredibly proud of😃.

Below are some additional resources for those who want to learn more about the SOAP:

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