The 2012 match was the largest ever, with over 38,000 participants. Numbers of IMGs and DOs in the match were both up over previous years. Over 95% of US medical seniors matched.
The NRMP reports several significant trends, including an increase in the number of positions in specialties including Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Anesthesiology (PGY-1 and PGY-2). With the increase in positions, match rates did not decline, indicating an increase in interest among applicants (nrmp.org).
This year also marked significant changes in the residency match process itself. The annual “scramble” (of unmatched applicants seeking to fill unfilled spots) has been replaced with SOAP, the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, intended to make the process less chaotic and more transparent.
Designed in response to increasing competitiveness and concerns about the execution of the “scramble,” SOAP streamlines the process for unmatched applicants in a few significant ways. Here are a few important things to know:
- The NRMP manages SOAP.
- The NRMP releases a list of unfilled positions, which applicants can apply for through ERAS.
- SOAP is organized in rounds, and the distribution of positions is time sensitive.
- Once an offer is made and accepted, it is binding.
The number of unfilled residency positions continues to drop, a sign of heightened competition. These reforms are intended to make the process more orderly and equitable for applicants.
Here’s how the process will look this year, and what to be prepared for:
On March 11, 2013, applicant matched and unmatched information will be made available (if you haven’t matched, you’ll find out). A list of locations of unfilled positions will be published for candidates eligible for SOAP.
If you haven’t matched and are participating in SOAP, you can contact programs with unfilled positions through ERAS and apply. No one else may contact programs on your behalf. Stay on top of the information as NRMP releases it and be diligent about contacting programs.
On March 12, programs with unfilled spots enter their SOAP preference lists. The first round of SOAP (based on these preference lists) begins March 13. There are 8 rounds. SOAP concludes March 15, which is Match Day.
What if you don’t match at all? Then it’s time for some careful analysis and evaluation: think about what went wrong (did you target the wrong programs? Were there weaknesses in your residency application?) and how you can strengthen your application profile.
By Dr. Rebecca Blustein, author of Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Rebecca will be happy to assist you with your residency and/or fellowship personal statements.