It's game day and you've just received the awful news that you don't match, even after the stressful and lengthy SOAP process. All your years of hard work have resulted in this... and you didn't fit. All your hopes and dreams, everything you worked for, it just fell away from under you. It can feel like the end of the world if you aren't eligible for residency after SOAP. But all is not lost, and in some cases, not matching can be an incredible opportunity that puts you down a path you hadn't previously considered.
In this guide, we'll cover what to do if you don't pass on match day, including how to deal with those first few days when emotions are running high, how to assess what went wrong and how to come up with an effective plan for the move create forward.
Remember, this post focuses on what happens when you don't agree via SOAP, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program. At the start of Match Week, if you find you don't have a match, you have the option to try one last time via SOAP.
student history:curve ball! Here's what happened the day I didn't fit.
The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) gives unsurpassed students another chance to fit in with a residency program in a busy week of new applications and interviews. It is the channel through which qualifying mismatched applicants in the Main Residency Match apply and are offered the positions not filled during the initial matching algorithm.
We cover this complete process in ourSOAP match guide.
Whether you applied via SOAP or not, it's now the end of Match Week and no match after all your hard work. Here's what to do in the days, weeks, and months after the mismatch.
1 | Don't react immediately
While this is easier said than done, be careful not to react too quickly. Take a deep breath. We won't sugarcoat it: mismatches can feel like an earth-shattering cataclysmic disaster. It can feel like your entire career—and therefore your life—has completely derailed. code blue.
In fact, of course, that's not even remotely the case, but seeing the wood for the trees will feel almost impossible when you find out that you don't match. Mismatching is like a dog whistle for all your insecurities.Why did I think I could ever be a doctor? what was i thinking All that money, time and energy wasted. I am aimpostor. I should give up. I am a loser.
These feelings will surely come up in you. And that's perfectly fine. It's a big disappointment, and as small as it ends up being, it's a professional setback. It is imperative that you give yourself the space to feel these feelings.
Don't unleash your emotions on social media in the world,online networks, or any other forum. Do not immediately turn to your peers or mentors. Don't make instant decisions. Don't even get behind the wheel of your car. Do nothing but process this new and undeniably unfortunate piece of information.
2 | Acknowledge your emotions
Take a moment to acknowledge your grief. After all, that's what you feel. Your dream of matching on the first try is dead, and you must take time to process that loss.
It is important to take this time as you will soon need to decide your next steps and do not want to make irrational, emotionally charged decisions.
If you're not alone when you find out, at least initially find a place where you can be alone. You don't want to take your shock and frustration out on people you care about. Find a private space to process those charged emotions.
However, taking a moment for yourself doesn't mean you have to stay alone. We all process difficult emotions in our own way. Some of us prefer to be alone and some of us prefer to be surrounded and comforted by loved ones. Do what feels right for you, but make sure you acknowledge how you're feeling. Storing those emotions only means releasing them at an inconvenient time.
3 | Avoid social media
You absolutely have to avoid social media during this time. You don't need the comparison now. Acquaintances and friends are likely to use social media to express their joy and excitement at finding a match. Obviously this is not helpful to you in any way. Also, their situation is completely different from your own. There is nothing of value to learn on social media on or after game day, especially if you haven't played.
Do not open social media. Take time to process these powerful and difficult emotions alone and with trusted friends and family.Write out your feelings in a journal. Work out your frustration through exercise. Blow off steam at the gym instead of on Reddit, TikTok, or whatever.
Spending time on social media after finding out you're a mismatch is like a bride who's just been left at the aisle and spends her days at a bridal shop helping other women choose a wedding dress. It is not healthy.
4 | When you're ready, let people know
Don't lock yourself in your room for days. This setback will likely leave you embarrassed or even ashamed, and it's very easy to withdraw into ourselves and avoid people when we're feeling this way. But you have nothing to be ashamed of. Each year, thousands of qualified applicants are mismatched.The NRMP match algorithm is very complex, and it can work for or against you as it seeks out the best opportunity for both applicants and programs.
Feelings of embarrassment or shame fester when we are alone. Take a moment for yourself, and then spend some time processing your emotions with trusted friends, family, and mentors.
When you're ready (and don't wait too long!), reach out to the important people in your life and career and let them know that you're a mismatch. Residency positions open up all the time outside of The Match, so it's important that your mentors and key contacts are aware of your current predicament.
Telling other people about it can be an incredibly difficult task, but it is a task you must face, and it could lead to future opportunities.
Remember that disagreement is not the end of the world and many other students are in a similar position. Show your strength by welcoming this setback with grace and maturity. Acknowledge the setback, be open and honest with those around you, and start putting the pieces together to move forward.
5 | Rate your application
Once you've taken the time to process your emotions, acknowledge the reality of your situation, and realign your mindset, it's time to evaluate your application.
What went wrong? Are there any vulnerabilities? Have you had low board scores? were yoursletter of recommendationnot quite strong enough? you doPersonal opinionNeed a more compelling narrative? has yoursResidency interviewsnot going as smoothly as planned? How didUSMLE step 1AndStep 2 CCgo? Do you have enough programs in yourranking list?
Almost every part of your application can be refined and improved for the next time, but you won't have time to improve everything. It is important that you pinpoint weaknesses so that you can make necessary improvements in the short time you have to reapply.
If you want to apply for the following cycle, you only have a few months to improve your application. If you find you need to make drastic changes, e.g. B. to gain remarkable research experience, you may not be able to do so in time to re-apply in the same year.
It is not uncommon for those who are a mismatch to take a gap year between medical school and residency to hone their skills, experience and application materials.
6 | Seek unbiased feedback
It is difficult to judge one's own application objectively. Obviously you didn't submit anything that you felt was lackluster. That is why it is so important to look for objectivity,unbiased feedbackby experts who are intimately familiar with residency permits and The Match.
You must make smart, calculated decisions about what to improve and what to focus on before reapplying for residency, or you may end up in the exact position you are in now. You tried it your way once and it didn't work. It's time to get unbiased feedback from people who understand the ins and outs of The Match process.
Contact your dean, academic advisors, faculty members, letter writers, current residents you know, or someone you trust for reliable and objective advice. It may be difficult to tell these people that you have not been successful, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. Coming up shows maturity; It shows you understand the value of feedback.
However, it is risky to seek advice from someone with whom you have a personal relationship as their judgment may be clouded. In addition, the mentors you have around you may not have direct experience of assessing residency applications. While these people are keen to share their thoughts and opinions, they do not understand the ins and outs of the ERAS application process, what schools are looking for and how best to refine your application to make it successful.
If you don't know anyone who has direct experience with the residency decision-making process, it's a good idea to do the sameget advice from professionalswho can assess your application strategically and objectively.
Unbiased advice will help you pinpoint the areas that will bring the greatest improvement to your overall application.
7 | Make a plan for the future
Once you've evaluated your application with unbiased feedback from experts on the admissions process, it's time to act on that feedback and determine your next steps.
If you apply immediately, you have about six months before you need to apply again. How can you use this time most effectively? If you take an extra year to reapply, how can you make sure you use that time wisely and don't lose momentum? Do you need to nurture meaningful relationships for stronger letters of recommendation?
Would taking the USMLE Step 3 before the residency make you a more compelling candidate? For example, if your main weakness is your Step results, it may make sense for you to break Step 3 before reapplying for the residency.
Would a research grant improve your qualification? NRMP data show that lack of research is a general limiting factor for highly competitive specialties. You can choose to devote a full year to conducting the research, but if you hope to make remarkable research achievements in just 6 months, your work will be clipped for you. It is possible to get a number of releases out during this time, but only if you put in intensive hours, e.g. B. 70-100 hour weeks.
Keep in mind that research positions are not always paid. Especially if you have a tight timeframe to reapply in the same year, remember that your priority is getting publications and experience, not making money. Be ready to get the job done for free.
Program directors and other advisors often say that you need at least a full extra year before reapplying because there isn't enough time between Match Week and applications to do what you need to do. While this advice applies to most people, with the right strategy and commitment, it can be done in 6 months.At Med School Insiders, we've helped students turn a winning match into a competitive specialty after they didn't match the first time.
Regardless of your application schedule, be proactive. Find mentors at your school who work in the field of medicine you are interested in and volunteer. Get involved in a research project if you can. It's also possible that you could use this small setback to work as a medical consultant for a Silicon Valley startup or explore other exciting opportunities in medical technology.
You have many options and opportunities, but you must narrow your focus and make decisions that will best help you achieve your overall goal - adjusting for a future cycle residency. Create a comprehensive plan for how you will approach the next 6 to 18 months based on everything you learned from your previous application.
8 | Use your time effectively
If you intend to apply for a residency permit in the next cycle, you only have about six months to improve your application. It's not a lot of time, especially when you realize that for a strong letter of recommendation you need to cultivate a different relationship or need more research experience.
Given your limited time, it's so important to deduce which areas of your application to focus on to have the greatest impact. Once you know one area or another that you need to focus on, devote your time to improving those areas.
If you try to improve a little everywhere, you'll run out of time without showing significant improvements anywhere. It's far better to focus on one or two areas where you can make a drastic improvement as it will be far more likely to get you noticed by your favorite residency programs.
9 | Keep an eye out for opportunities
Stay in touch with your dean, faculty, advisors, local residents, and letter writers, as residency positions become available all the time and may not be filled through formal channels.
There are many different reasons why residencies open. It is possible that applicants who are accepted may have visa issues that prevent them from fulfilling their position. Some residency programs may receive additional funding for another residency position available outside of The Match. Adopted residents may, for any reason, face personal issues that prevent them from beginning their residency.
There are numerous reasons new residency positions may open up outside of The Match, which is why it's important that you're always on the lookout for opportunities and staying in touch with professionals who believe in you. You never know what will open up.
Keep moving forward
If you were not accepted into a residency program this year, it is important that you re-evaluate your application for vulnerabilities so you can make the drastic improvements needed for next year.
Med School Insiders can help you prepare an outstanding residency application. Our team includes the best in the industry. Every Physician Advisor on the Med School Insiders team has passed our extremely rigorous 5-step application process and excelled in their own medical career. We can help - just take oneCheck out our results.
We offer a range ofAdvisory services for residence permitstailored to your needs, inclEdit personal declaration,USMLE tutoring, interview preparation etcmock interviews, and general application editing.